Four years ago Anita Punt was just another starry-eyed supporter.
Yesterday, the capital midfielder had her ticket clipped for London and this time will be playing alongside Black Sticks skipper Kayla Sharland, rather than just posing with her.
"I actually went to the Beijing Olympic qualifiers in Auckland," Punt said.
"I was looking through one of my hockey books and I have a picture with Kayla, so I just showed her that and we were laughing about it earlier."
Punt's selection was anything but a punt for national women's coach Mark Hager.
The Nelson product has racked up 93 caps since her debut in 2009 and has forged a reputation as one of the fastest players in the world, with her times over 10m sharp enough to rank her in the top eight of the men's squad.
Ranked sixth in the world, the Black Sticks were given a timely wakeup call earlier this month with a 3-0 series loss to Korea in Taeneung.
"With the selections coming up, we didn't perform as well as we wanted to," Punt said.
"But with people writing us off, that's how we prefer to play, to be the underdogs with no expectations.
"It's going to be a hard challenge but how often do you get to play at an Olympic Games? You want to make it memorable in a good way."
Punt, 24, will have a large contingent of friends and family turfside in London and said a strong start to the tournament against Australia would be crucial.
Pool B also includes Argentina, Germany, South Africa and the United States.
"We're in a really tough pool but the good thing is anyone can beat anyone. The first game, against our rivals Aussie, we really want to do well against them and have a good start."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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