Blake Govers says the chance to compete at his third Olympic Games is the big carrot looming on the horizon after being picked in the Kookaburras squad for 2024.
Hockey Australia on Wednesday named their latest 27-man squad - including Govers and fellow Illawarra talent Flynn Ogilvie - as the Kookas begin ramping up preparations for a big 12-month calendar, which includes the Paris Olympics and fifth season of the FIH Pro League.
2024 shapes as a crucial for both Australian teams, including for Govers, who is gearing up for his eighth year in the green and gold. While still only 27, the Albion Park talent has almost 150 international caps to his name and has become a key cog in the Kookas' machine.
Govers is hungry as ever to taste gold in Paris next July/August, after the Aussies picked up silver at the 2020 Games in Tokyo. He was also part of the Kookas squad that was knocked out in the quarter-finals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"Every year, you kind of question whether you're good enough and if you're going to see your name on the list, because the coaches keep their cards close to their chest," Govers told the Mercury.
"Being an Olympic year, it's nice to know that you're in the mix of the training group, and this will hopefully be my third Olympic cycle if I'm lucky enough to make it. But I'm pretty excited, we've got a great group and if we're at the top of our game, we'll be a good chance over the next year.
"We're 230 or so days away from the Olympics and it's actually not that far away. You've got to have a level of fitness for now because if you have an injury for now, you could be really set back. So we've already started with a big training and running block.
"So we're charging forward, mate."
Govers added that it was a "great" feeling to compete on the Olympic stage.
"The last one during COVID had a different feel, because there was no crowds. But we had a hell of a lot of support because people were watching it, and people were engaged in it," he said.
"I'm hoping that we have the same feeling heading into this Olympics. It's amazing athletes who put on a two-week spectacle for the viewers, so I think that's the exciting part. And to be part of that is awesome, it's the pinnacle."