What a fantastic way to finish the Diamonds’ 2013 international season by completing a clean sweep of our Coles Netball Test Series campaign.
We are all delighted with the results of the five Tests against New Zealand and Malawi – especially the exciting end to another high intensity Constellation Cup Test Series against the Silver Ferns.
The final Test in Canberra was indeed a physical test as well as a mental test after we had already regained the trophy from New Zealand in Melbourne.
This was also an opportunity to start a new combination of athletes who had been putting in the hard yards at training.
Our attention then turned to the Malawi Queens, who are a team that can get under your skin and do not give in until the final whistle blows.
Although the first Test did not indicate the intensity it actually was via the score, the second Test certainly was intense.
Malawi played very well and it was only in the second half that we truly pulled away.
It was a great finish to the whole series and was capped off with our recent debutant Paige Hadley winning the most valuable player award.
The weekend at the Gold Coast did not finish there with NetFest finals happening and our Australian Netball Awards brunch held on the Sunday morning after the final Test.
Our Netball Australia staff certainly had their work cut out to present all of these events in the one window of opportunity and worked above and beyond as usual.
You are the team behind the Diamonds and we thank you for your efforts!
That Renae Hallinan won the prestigious Liz Ellis Diamond was a fitting finish to our international campaign as she encapsulates the consistent and team-oriented performance we’re striving for.
Her personal story is one of persistence and resilience when she was dropped from the team in 2011 to come back better than ever in 2012 and 2013.
Renae listened carefully to the feedback given and sought to rectify these areas. She was humble and listened, and remained positive and driven. Many people would benefit from hearing more about this story that Renae is an inspiration to all.
Our mission now turns to achieving the gold medal in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games.
Our plans are in place to have the best prepared, fit and healthy team as possible contesting for the gold medal on Sunday, August 3 next year.
We will come together for an athlete preparation camp at the AIS in Canberra in December where we will work with our specialists in physical conditioning and injury management.
We will then enlist all the coaching staff to run a simulation camp in January to rehearse all of our schedules and requirements to cope with the exact timing of the Commonwealth Games draw.
We have a number of games early in the morning during our pool campaign and will need to familiarise the athletes with these changes to their sleep, eating and recovery patterns.
The bulk of the individual preparation will be overseen by the head coaches at their ANZ Championship franchises with regular visits from the national staff – including myself.
This is our other critical team behind the Diamonds, the ANZ Championship franchises and our institute network.
We are all going for gold in Glasgow!
Our Diamonds athletes are now in recovery and active rest phase but our Fast5 Flyers will be in action in a couple of weeks.
These athletes are highly suited to this form of the game and are also on the cusp of selection for the Commonwealth Games team. I wish coach Jane Searle, her assistant Jane Woodlands-Thompson and all the athletes in the team the very best for the tournament!
Selection for the Commonwealth Games team remains an ongoing process over the next seven months. Players in the team and in the squad will be monitored carefully and will be expected to continue to show improvement – particularly in the first 10 rounds of the ANZ Championship.
The team will be selected from the most in-form players next May and the Diamonds know that this requires improvement and adherence to high performance behaviours as well as consistent high level performances in ANZ Championship games next year.
Can I finish on a note of thanks to all of our wonderful fans out there! We salute you all and thank you for your enthusiastic and loyal support and look forward to seeing you all again in 2014.
Go Diamonds – `Going For Gold’ in Glasgow!