It’s been four years since Laura Brock made her Olympic debut at Rio 2016. The Westfield Matildas defender looks back on the moment she joined an elite group and became an Olympian.
In 2016 it had been 12 long years since the Westfield Matildas had set foot on the Olympic stage.
When the Westfield Matildas headed to Brazil for Rio 2016, as with many of her teammates, it would be the first Laura Brock would represent Australia at an Olympic Games.
“It was a surreal thing. I don’t think I’ve processed it fully even now,” said Brock.
“Getting selected for any tournament, major or minor with the Matildas is always a buzz. It wasn’t until we’d gotten to Brazil that I was like ‘woah, okay, this is real, this is an Olympics’.”
I think once were given the Olympic team uniform for the 2016 games, it really sunk in as this had the rings on it. We are at the Olympics.”
“It was pretty emotional and what was cool was that, being a team athlete, you get to share that with your teammates. There was this whole excitement around the group.”
At 26 years old, Brock had already played on the national team for six years including at the 2011 and 2015 FiFA Women’s World Cup. However, for the Brisbane defender, everything was heightened for the Olympics.
Walking onto the field for the first game, it definitely had a different feel around it.”
“You hear your national anthem and you have your teammates standing next to you. They ultimately understand what it is that you’ve gone through. They’ve been on that journey with you.”
Unfortunately, that first Olympic match itself is not one of Brock’s fondest memories.
The Westfield Matildas went down 2-0 to Canada, with the first goal coming after only 20 seconds. Despite Canada playing with a player down for the majority of the game, Australia couldn’t find the back of the net.
“It was not the greatest start to an Olympic campaign,” she said ruefully four years on.
“I think it really showed my nerves of how big of a stage it was. Even though I had been playing in the team for, at that time, six years, I was still as nervous as I was on day one of playing.”
Despite the start, Australia went on to reach the quarter finals against Brazil in a match that captivated Australians. That Rio 2016 campaign highlighted once again to Brock why the Olympics hold a special place in Australian sporting lexicon.
“It’s Australian culture to love sport and the Olympics are the pinnacle of that.”
“There is something about watching fellow Australians represent the country that brings a sense of pride and togetherness. “
With her Westfield Matildas debut being over a decade ago, Brock feels like she is heading into the twilight of her career. However, the defender still has her eyes set on feeling that Olympic glow once again.
It would be an absolute honour to go to another Olympic Games. It is always an honour to pull on that jersey.”
“For me it would be like closing a door on over a decade long chapter in my life and finishing on a high.”
Brock is currently playing for EA Guingamp in the Division 1 Feminine in France with next year’s Tokyo Olympics firmly in her sights.
She hopes that the French league will push her as a player and put her in the best state possible for Olympic selection.
“I am well aware I am coming to the tail end of my career and there are younger, great players coming through and we are all fighting for very few spots.”
At the moment I have shifted my career to France. All of that is to basically to get myself prepared and in the best state to put myself in for selection for the Olympics."
“The league here is phenomenal. It is really going to push me, and I hope that if anything I finish on high - not only with the national team but as a professional playing the best football of my career.”