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Rechelle Hawkes: constant class

30 May 2007
Olympic News

Rechelle Hawkes started playing hockey when she was six. At the age of 33, she found herself alone in front of an audience of billions during the glittering evening of the 15th of September 2000 for the Opening Ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games. Today, the triple gold medallist is celebrating her 40th birthday. Let’s have a close-up look at this hockey star who is in control at any age and in all circumstances.
The athletes’ spokeswoman in Sydney
In Sydney, the Opening Ceremony was in full swing. The five-ringed flag was carried into the stadium and silence fell. It was time for the Olympic oath, a tradition introduced by Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. Spectators and cameras turned to the podium, where a young woman stood: Rechelle Hawkes took centre stage, pronouncing the Oath on behalf of all the athletes. Kathy Freeman then lit the Olympic cauldron, which rose among water and fire: the Games could begin!

An integral part of protocol, the Olympic oath is an important element in the Games Opening Ceremony. It commits the participating athletes to respect the rules and play fairly. Pronounced for the first time at the Antwerp Games in 1920 by Belgian athlete Victor Boin, it has integrated the subject of doping since 2000 in Sydney. This underlines the IOC-led fight against this scourge.  
One of the "Hockeyroos"
Two days after the Oath, the star player started competing. Rechelle had been a member of the Hockeyroos, the exciting women’s national hockey team, since 1985. This team had achieved an impressive number of successes during the period leading up to the Sydney Games: two World Cups, five Champions Trophies and the first Commonwealth Games title.

In Sydney, the talent of the Australian women hockey players worked wonders, taking them from one victory to the next. The quality of their game was equalled only by their fair play: they were the only team not to receive a yellow card during the tournament. After their last match, in which they beat Argentina 3-1, Rechelle handed her hockey stick over to the crowd, thus marking the end of her international career, which had started 15 years previously.
After the Seoul Games in 1988 and Atlanta in 1996, Sydney was Rechelle’s third victory on an Olympic pitch: a record in women’s hockey that still remains unbroken today.
Successful conversion
One year after the Sydney Games, she became a member of the International Hockey Federation Executive Committee. She was part of a team of hockey commentators at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. In the same year, she gave birth to baby Jesse.

The ease that Rechelle Hawkes showed throughout her career is proof of what can be achieved by a healthy mind in a healthy body, as the saying goes. Happy birthday, Rechelle!



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