Leigh Godfrey: The Olympics means more to me than I thought

Leigh Melissa Godfrey #17 of Australia hits game winning RBI in the eighth inning against Mexico during their Playoff Round match at the 2018 WBSC Women's Softball World Championship (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
Leigh Melissa Godfrey #17 of Australia hits game winning RBI in the eighth inning against Mexico during their Playoff Round match at the 2018 WBSC Women's Softball World Championship (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

For Leigh Godfrey, Tokyo 2020 will be her first taste of the Olympics after softball was dropped from the schedule for 12 years

The last time softball was played at an Olympic Games was Beijing 2008 before it was dropped for both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

With softball being popular in the host nation of Japan and having won gold at Beijing, it was brought back into the fold for Tokyo 2020.

So when the Games were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and softball not being included for Paris 2024, it made Australian softball player Leigh Godfrey realise just how much being an Olympian would mean to her.

"When the Olympics was postponed, I didn't realise how much that was going to hurt. I think the Olympics might even mean more to me than what I originally had even thought," she told Sydney 2000 beach volleyball gold medallist Nat Cook on the On My Day podcast.

"I guess it's one of those things. Obviously we've done the reset now, and we're looking forward to next year in 2021 but it's everything...it's why I get up in the morning, it's why you miss out on family functions, it's why you don't get to do all these things in life."

"I would love to find the words to explain how excited I am to potentially go to the Olympics."

Godfrey will have to wait to see if she'll be in Tokyo in less than a year's time with the Australian players having to go through the selection process all over again.

Before the postponement, they were waiting for the announcement of the final squad going to Tokyo but hit re-set on their preparations.

"We will have to get re-selected into that Olympic squad again so for me it's sort of a feeling [about being an Olympian] that's been put on the back burner until we get re-selected," Godfrey explained.

"But how exciting. I wish I had the words to describe how if feels about being able to go to the Olympics."

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Going for gold

Currently ranked eighth in the world, Australia will face some stiff opponents including three-time Olympic gold medallist the United States and reigning Olympic champions Japan, when the Olympic Softball competition begins on 21 July.

In fact, Japan and Australia will commence proceedings on the opening day of competition.

Australia can take confidence going into the Games next year. They are the only nation besides the USA to have medalled at every Olympics where softball has been included with three bronze and a silver to their name.

While they've never taken top prize, an Olympic gold medal, could Tokyo 2020 finally be their chance?

During the podcast, Cook asks guests to envision themselves in the gold medal match (or race) and walk through what it would be like.

"I've actually thought about this," the 31-year-old player admitted with the idea crossing her mind during conditioning training.

"I've seen how the day plays out...the hits that I'm going to get and the way our pitchers are going to throw. I've seen the winning hit to the winning catches then standing on the podium with my teammates and getting that Olympic gold medal placed around my neck.

"I think the celebrations, experiencing it with family and friends would be one of the best moments in my life."