IT will be an Olympics with a difference, but Wagga hockey player Dylan Martin believes being forced to focus purely on hockey in the Tokyo COVID bubble can help the Kookaburras bring home gold.
The 23-year-old will make his Olympics debut in Japan after a whirlwind 12 months which has seen him promoted from an outside chance at selection to a first team regular.
He has impressed in his first six caps for the Kookaburras in matches against the Kiwis in New Zealand and Western Australia, with the team training in Darwin before they left for Japan on Saturday.
The Kookaburras hope their Northern Territory stopover will help them acclimatise to the heat and humidity of Japan as they look to emulate Australia's gold medal triumph at Athens in 2004.
Australia enters the tournament as the world's top-ranked team and begin their campaign with a clash against the host nation this Saturday.
Faced with playing their first four games in five days, Martin hopes their fitness can help them prevail.
"We're doing a fair bit of preparation up here, it's a pretty tough gig for those games we have to get through," he said.
"We've got a good plan on how we're going to handle that and our recovery, the temperature and humidity is pretty high in Japan.
"Playing the host nation will be pretty exciting to be honest. We don't know how they're going to play like as well, we'll have to adapt to that as well.
"We've set goals for ourselves, and the first is to make a quarter final. Obviously we want to win gold, but that's the first step for us.
"Playing the host nation will be pretty exciting to be honest. We don't know how they're going to play like as well."
No crowds are allowed at the Olympics, meaning Martin's parents Ross and Lesley and the rest of the family will have to be content watching from their lounge room.
Australia's athletes will also be in a COVID bubble which prevents fraternising with athletes from other countries.
"We've done a bit of training and game simulations without crowds. We'll just keep continuing what we can normally do," Martin said.
"It's going to be pretty restrictive in the village. They've recommended staying with our groups and there's some logistics that might change to work through.
"We'll take it how it is, but we're there for a reason and we'll prepare for that.
"In the village we're allowed to move around and go for walks, but not allowed to associate with other countries which makes sense with what's going on.
"It would be nice for the parents to come over but my whole family will get together and watch every game."
MEN'S HOCKEY SCHEDULE (TIMES AEST)
Saturday, July 24, 10.30am: Japan v Kookaburras
Sunday, July 25, 7:30pm: India v Kookaburras
Tuesday July 27, 9.30am: Argentina v Kookaburras
Wednesday July 28, approx 10pm: Kookaburras v New Zealand
Friday, July 30, 11.00am: Kookaburras v Spain
Sunday, August 1: Quarter finals
Tuesday, August 3: Semi finals
Thursday, August 5: Medal matches
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