CHRIS DUTTON July 19, 2012
Andrew Charter will head to London as a back-up keeper for the Kookaburras. Photo: Gary Schafer
He'll have front-row seats to what the Kookaburras hope will be an Olympic Games gold medal, but Andrew Charter admitted to apprehension and being mentally drained as he boarded the plane to London yesterday.
Charter faces a significant dilemma as the world No.1 Kookaburras chase Olympic glory.
The Canberra goalkeeper has been selected in coach Ric Charlesworth's squad.
But the catch is Charter is the back-up goalkeeper and can only play if Nathan Burgers suffers a serious injury.
He's allowed in the Olympic village when the team arrives in London tomorrow, but when the Games begin he has to stay in an apartment with fellow reserve Kiel Brown.
"It's a tough position to be in as one of the alternates," Charter said.
"I wouldn't wish an injury on my worst enemy . . . it's hard to get your head around it, you want it so much but you know it can only happen if one of your best mates gets injured.
"It can be tough to stay motivated, but the great thing about the squad is it has all been positive . . . I would be kicking myself if I didn't take this period seriously and then if called on I let myself and the team down."
The Kookaburras are the Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy champions, but they want revenge for their Olympic bronze medal four years ago.
While Charter bides his time on the bench, Goulburn striker Glenn Turner will lead the Kookaburras' attack.
Charter is confident the team can achieve its goal of finishing on top of the podium – with or without him.
The 25-year-old moved to Perth to chase his hockey dream in 2010 and he describes the journey as "tumultuous".
The move didn't go according to plan.
He wasn't being selected in teams and contemplated giving hockey away to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.
But breaking into the Kookaburras at the start of last year reinvigorated his love of the game.
Now his goal is to use his London experience to motivate him to compete at the next two Olympics as Australia's first-choice goalkeeper.
"I can only learn from this experience and hopefully I'll get a better idea of what it might be in four years time and that's a motivating factor," Charter said.
"I never thought I would be going to London 18 months ago, it's been pretty unbelievable and I don't regret a day of it.
"I was extremely close to giving it away, ACT Academy of Sport coach Ben Bishop and my family were pivotal keeping me in the game and keep on fighting."
Turner has played 79 matches for Australia and scored 60 goals since making his debut in 2009.
He plays in the same team with Charter in the Perth league and said he was a big part of the gold-medal bid.
"He's [Charter] so close he can almost touch it and for him it's just about you never know what happens," Turner said.
"In a week he could be playing at the Olympics, if not it's a great experience and he's still young and there's no doubt he's still rising."