CHRIS DUTTON July 27, 2012
Anna Flanagan. Photo: Getty Images
Massages, facials and manicures hardly sound like intense Olympic preparation, but the Hockeyroos insist their ''relaxing getaway'' will be the perfect tonic for their medal campaign.
The three-time gold medallists returned to London yesterday after a pre-Olympic camp an hour away from all the hype and buzz as Games fever grips the city.
Coach Adam Commens took his team to Kent for a retreat to escape the pressure.
They swapped their hockey sticks for bath robes and their training schedule for a casual two-day break to reinvigorate the squad.
The young Hockeyroos are aiming to rise back into medal contention after their fifth place at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
To ensure they remain focused, the players will likely decide to sit out the opening ceremony to ensure their preparation isn't interrupted.
The build-up might seem unconventional, but Canberra defender Anna Flanagan said it had the Hockeyroos primed for success.
''We just needed some R and R, there was a day spa so we had massages and facials, we rested and just had down time,'' Flanagan said.
''It was amazing, it was this old, little hotel and it was really important for us so we could come back refreshed and with a new mindset.
''You can't escape the Olympics, but it was another world for us out there … I've never done anything like that before and now we're ready to go.''
The Hockeyroos will begin their campaign against New Zealand on Sunday and have high hopes of avenging their flop four years ago.
Flanagan has immersed herself in the Olympic experience.
When she first arrived in the athletes' village she sat next to cricket legend Steve Waugh at breakfast and was left speechless.
Surfing great Layne Beachley has been working closely with the team and Flanagan is still star-struck when some of Australia's high-profile athletes talk to her.
''Just walking past [basketballers] Lauren Jackson and Liz Cambage is pretty cool,'' Flanagan said.
''I think the big internationals will wait until the last minute to come into the village.
''When I was sitting next to Steve Waugh he was chatting to the coaches so I didn't want to interrupt him but I think I'll go around and get some photos later on.''
The Hockeyroos have been solid in their preparations but Commens said his team got the ''wake-up call'' it needed when it was thrashed by the Netherlands.
Star Casey Eastham has declared the side would be the best in the world in four years time, but it was still capable of snatching a medal in London.
And Flanagan said a first-up win against cross Tasman rivals New Zealand would give their medal bid a perfect boost. ''We're definitely confident, we know if we start well and get on top of New Zealand it's game on,'' she said.
''We think we can do well over here and that belief hasn't changed so we'll just wait and see how we go … I'm ready to go now.''