At some point this weekend Simon Orchard will be vying for an Olympic medal.
At the time of writing the exact nature of this play-off, being one versus two or three versus four wasn’t determined with the Kookaburras semi-final against Germany still to be played on Thursday afternoon (London time).
By the time you are reading this you will know wether the Australian men’s hockey team will shoot for gold or bronze come Saturday at Riverbank Arena (or the early hours of Sunday morning at Maitland Park Bowling Club for those with the inside information; or the Hunter Valley Brewery for those still out and about; or even the comfort of a Bolwarra lounge room for those who prefer the under-the-doona approach).
For us Maitland-ers and former school mates of Orchard in London the fixture will more than likely involve a gathering at the Aussie home-away-from-home-type-pub called the Walkabout, mainly because they will surely air the game live and also because I’m completely over being surrounded by Brits, especially when they keep collecting gold and singing God Save The Queen.
And finally, for the inner sanctum of supporters, the Orchard family of Steve, Lynn and Josh, they will be in the crowd proudly waving flags, loudly cheering and donning the uniforms which display their boy’s now famous number three.
Even if you don’t see the game or don’t follow the Olympics generally, London 2012 has provided the people of this city with a wonderful opportunity to watch and connect with someone from their hometown competing on the world stage at the biggest multi-sports festival there is.
To see “the Ram” go up as a post-goal celebration the other day soon after Orchard scored was a magic moment indeed.
It certainly put Maitland on the international map and was a proud acknowledgement of home in the Hunter.
I felt the same way at Hyde Park on Tuesday when Brendan Sexton was participating in the men’s triathlon.
I wore my black and white sporting attire, underneath my Australian flag of course, while Sexton slogged it out for almost two hours in the tough three-discipline event.
I even got talking to a Spanish girl, yes she was quite good looking, who was carrying the flag of her region for silver medalist Javier Gomez, which highlights the importance of our sense of place wherever we are in the world.
In the end, we will all cross our fingers, hold our breath (well maybe not for that long because the beer might get hot) and hope for the best when Orchard steps out onto the field this weekend.
Obviously his sights and those of his Australian teammates are set on gold, as are the other three teams (Germany, Great Britain and the Netherlands) battling it out in the final four.
But regardless of what happens next he has already done Maitland proud and as his father quite rightly pointed out the other day – “you’re an Olympian now”.
So all the best Orchy, good luck in the medal rounds and if things fall the right way we might see another Ram get a run.
Just promise us one thing, don’t let the Poms beat you.
The gold medal play-off will be contested at 8pm (5am Sunday AEST) while the play-off for bronze will be take place at 3.30pm (12.30am Sunday AEST).