Noakes nails Bei­jing spot

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Morgan

Black Sticks mid-fielder Kim Noakes is set to rub shoul­ders with the best.

The 25-year-old, who rep­re­sents the St Lukes-based SLAM club, couldn’t be hap­pier about her se­lec­tion in the Olympic hockey side leav­ing for Bei­jing.

“The most ex­cit­ing part is you get to the vil­lage and you’re sur­rounded by the best ath­letes in the world,” she says.

“I’m go­ing to be get­ting my cam­era out and see if I can snap any fa­mous peo­ple.”

But that’s not to say the Orakei res­i­dent doesn’t have her mind on the job.

“The best me­mory would be a medal,” she says.

Al­though she’s pleased with her own form for the Black Sticks this year, Noakes says she never took her place in the squad to Bei­jing for granted.

“I don’t think you can ever be con­fi­dent with Olympic se­lec­tion. You put your life on hold for a whole year.”

Mak­ing the side is just the start for Noakes, who will face top-ranked teams Ger­many and Ar­gentina for the first time at the tour­na­ment. She will be helped by team vet­er­ans Niniwa Roberts, Caryn Pae­wai and Lizzy Igasan, who have all played more than 100 tests.

Noakes will also be able to call on ad­vice from boyfriend and New Zealand men’s cap­tain Ryan Archibald, who has played 207 matches for his coun­try.

“It’ll be a fun ex­pe­ri­ence. Not many peo­ple get to ex­pe­ri­ence that to­gether,” she says.

Black Sticks coach Kevin Towns says Noakes’ all-round skills are what se­cured her place in the team.

“She’s got won­der­ful ath­leti­cism, which means she can stay in the game for a long time and find play­ers with pretty deft passes.”

Her de­fen­sive skills are an­other plus for Towns, who was only able to choose 16 play­ers for the tour­na­ment.

And Towns be­lieves re­cent form could see them stand­ing on the medal dais.

“Take me back 12 months and I’d be happy to get into the top eight. But we’ve showed we’ve made some progress, so we’re tar­get­ing top four.

“With things go­ing your way, any­thing can hap­pen.”

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Ready for ac­tion: Black Stick Kim Noakes is ex­cited about rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand at the Olympics.

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