Going to the London Olympics was a dream come true for hockey international Anita Punt but she still doesn’t like to talk about the result.
While finishing inside the top four in the world would be a welcome result for any New Zealand hockey team, fourth place at an Olympic Games is often considered the worst position to finish, missing out on a medal by just one placing.
Although Anita came home empty handed, the experience is something she will never forget and to recognise her efforts, the fastest woman in world hockey was presented with an Olympic pin from Sport Tasman on Friday afternoon.
The pin – which is given to every athlete that has represented New Zealand at the Olympics – has her Olympic number engraved on it, and was last presented in Nelson to Golden Bay cyclist Jack Bauer.
Anita described the presentation, which was held during the conclusion of the Marie Fry Trophy secondary school tournament, as “pretty special,” before the pin was officially pinned on by former Olympian Jeff Rackley.
While Jack’s presentation was held following the Games last year, Anita’s busy scheduled was only vacated last week and a fleeting visit back to Nelson doubled as the perfect opportunity, according to Sport Tasman CEO Nigel Muir. “I know she is fast, but we have really struggled over the last two years to catch up with Anita to award her with this pin,” he says.
The 122 cap Black Stick, who already has a silver medal from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, says the Olympic Games was the ultimate honour.
“I guess thinking about it now it’s a huge honour and growing up here I never would have thought I’d get to go. I remember always watching it on TV but being there just changes your life.”
A well known athlete in her own right, Anita admits her inner sports fan came out when walking through the Olympic Village where thousands of other international sporting superstars were based. “You’ll just be strolling along and bump into LeBron James, Usain Bolt and Mo Farrah,” she explains. “I really wanted a picture with Usain Bolt but I actually ate my lunch too quick and he was gone. The other girls got a picture and I was so gutted but you got to remember that they’re there to compete and how annoying it might be, so you try to respect them.”
Anita is committed to the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup next year and could return to the Olympics in 2016.