Youth Olympic gold for Jillaroo Holzberger

Jordyn Holzberger of Australia and Meiyu Liang of China contest possession in the women's hockey final.
Jordyn Holzberger of Australia and Meiyu Liang of China contest possession in the women's hockey final. Mark Nolan

JORDYN Holzberger continues to rack up hockey milestones like other 19-year-olds do hangovers.

The latest achievement in Holzberger's brief but spectacular international career was collecting a gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Sydney on Sunday.

Holzberger, who was Australia's flag bearer at the opening ceremony, capped off the perfect tournament with a 2-1 win over China in the final.

The day before she had scored the goal that ensured Australia went into the final undefeated.

"It's really exciting," the Yamanto product said.

"We gelled really well as a team and it was good to come away with gold. It was a really tough final.

We gelled really well as a team and it was good to come away with gold. It was a really tough final.

"China took the lead and it was 1-0 at half-time.

"But we came back and scored two goals."

Holzberger made sure Australia went into the gold medal match confident.

She scored Australia's only goal in their final pool match, a 1-1 draw with China on Saturday, despite China having the better of the play.

"We had just come off a rest day," Holzberger explained.

"I think we were a bit lucky to come away with a draw.

"But we learnt a lot and took it into the final.

"We were confident in our preparation and the coaching staff.

"It was a good team goal (I scored) and it gave us a bit of confidence."

China is rapidly rising as a force in world hockey and gave the Aussies more trouble than their USA and Great British opponents.

"They're all pretty even but China play a different style to USA and Britain," Holzberger said.

"They're more aggressive but we managed to adapt well to it."

Great Britain claimed bronze, beating USA 2-1 in the third place play-off.

While it doesn't rank as highly as representing the senior Australian women's team, as Holzberger did last year, winning the Youth Olympics will remain a career highlight.

"It ranks very highly and getting a gold medal is great," she said.

It means Australia is on track to try and claim their first women's junior world cup, which is to be held in Germany in July-August.

Qualifying matches are scheduled for the Gold Coast at the end of February.

It will be a rare chance for Holzberger to return to her home state.

Holzberger has had no respite from her intense schedule, flying back to Perth, where she is based with the Australian Institute of Sport, the day after collecting the gold medal.

"This year is pretty full-on," Holzberger said.

"We get breaks from hockey where we still do gym and running. That's not too bad.

"You just get used to it.

"It's my job and I love it."

 

GOLD MEDAL

Australia 2 defeated China 1 Goals: Australia - Madison Fitzpatrick (47m PC), Kathryn Slattery (68m FG) China - Xiaoxue Zhang (13m FG).

Pool matches: Australia 1 drew China 1; Australia 4 d USA 2; Australia 3 d GB 0.


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