An Olympic sized taster 

IT’S not the Olympic Games, but it’s the next best thing.

Even so Aaron Kershaw will use Olympic facilities, play on an Olympic Games pitch and compete for an Olympic medal of sorts.

The 20-year-old defender today joins the next generation of hockey stars at the Australian Olympic Youth Festival in Homebush.

He hopes to use the event as a springboard to the Under 21s World Cup in India and ultimately, a tilt at the Olympic Games of 2016.

Impressive performances this week won’t go astray.

The building apprentice by day knows what’s at stake.

“You’re fighting for spots with people who are friends,” Kershaw, outlining the World Cup selection process, said.

“It’s all about trial and error.

The World Cup, that’s my goal.

This is all part of that.”

Kershaw and his Australian teammates will be hard to beat this week. The Australians are primed for a fair showing, having rolled Great Britain in three trial matches last week.

They commence their campaign this morning with a match against the USA. Tomorrow they clash with Great Britain before returning to the pitch on Saturday for their final pool match against China.

Should the Australians win each of their pool matches they’ll qualify for the gold medal playoff.

If their pre-tournament training regime is a fair indication, the young Australians are taking the competition seriously.

“We’ve done a lot of long, endurance drills to make sure we’re in good shape,” Kershaw said.

“We’ve had three trials with Great Britain, and we’ve won each game, so we’re pretty pleased with the way we’re going.”

The Youth Olympic Festival has a track record at producing fully fledged Olympians. Half of the bronze medal winning Kookaburras outfit from the London Olympics have played at the Youth Festival, including triple Olympian Mark Knowles.

Aaron Kershaw may one day join that list

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