Gerringong's Grace Stewart prepares for shot at Tokyo Olympics gold

GO FOR GOLD: Gerringong's Grace Stewart in action for the Hockeyroos. Photo: HOCKEY AUSTRALIA

GO FOR GOLD: Gerringong's Grace Stewart in action for the Hockeyroos. Photo: HOCKEY AUSTRALIA

Grace Stewart is looking for redemption after booking her ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.

The Gerringong product was on Friday named in the Hockeyroos' 27-player squad for 2020. A massive year of hockey begins with the FIH Pro League in Sydney, but all eyes will be on the Olympics starting in late July.

Stewart was just a teenager when she was named in the Australian squad for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. The Hockeyroos were among the favourites to win, but crashed out in the quarter finals at the hands of New Zealand.

In 2020, Stewart believes there's no reason why Australia can't win gold.

"We're definitely setting our sights on the gold medal and we'll see what happens I guess," she said.

"To be able to go a second time and hopefully perform better, it would be an unbelievable experience. For this squad, we've stuck with a core group of players.

"Everyone knows each other and it's exciting to see what we can potentially do."

But how would it feel to actually hold that gold medal?

"I don't think I could even describe it. Even thinking about it now seems pretty unbelievable. You'll have to ask me if or when I get one," Stewart said.

"In 2016, I kind of came from nowhere and made the team. I think next year means a lot more as I've been there through the build up."

The road to Tokyo proved rocky for the Hockeyroos. The side lost the Oceania Cup series against New Zealand in September, where victory would have meant automatic Olympic qualification.

Instead, Australia was sent into a two-match showdown against Russia in Perth last month. Stewart was recalled to the squad after battling a small abductor tear injury ahead of the series.

The striker showed no signs of discomfort as she found the back of the net in Australia's two victories.

"Losing to New Zealand ended up being a good thing for us," Stewart said.

"We got to stay together a team, train more and they were real high pressure games [in Perth]. Anytime you get to play in games that mean so much replicate what the Olympics will be like and the pressure we'll be under."

Stewart has now represented the Hockeyroos in more than 80 games. With four years' experience under her belt, she feels more comfortable in the side.

"Though I still get just as nervous as I did at the start, if not even more nervous now," Stewart said. "But I definitely feel more comfortable in my role and knowing what I'm doing. I'm settling into the team a bit more."

Illawarra pair Flynn Ogilvie and Blake Govers are also eyeing off the Olympics after being named in the Kookaburras' 2020 squad. Ogilvie, of Wollongong, has played more than 100 games for Australia but missed out on Olympic selection in 2016. Albion Park's Govers was part of the Kookaburras squad that reached the quarter finals. He has represented Australia in 97 matches.