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Hockey star Julius shares Olympic experience

Cardboard beds, no fans and living in a bubble

Robbert Kemperman of the Netherlands in action with Taine Paton of South Africa.
Robbert Kemperman of the Netherlands in action with Taine Paton of South Africa.
Image: Siphiwe Sibeko

Team SA is enjoying itself in a bio-bubble at the Olympic village in Tokyo, Japan, but find it awkward to sleep in beds made of card boxes.

Hockey star Ryan Julius told Sowetan about life in the village via zoom as he shared his Olympic experiences after a five-year absence at the Games.

The hockey men and women's teams did not go to the previous Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

They are back at the Games. They have since played two games and lost both of them so far in the group stages.

The 22-year-old midfielder said there is barely time to explore the city as they have to stay indoors at all times except when they go to training and to play their matches.

He started playing the game as a goalkeeper at the age of 13 on grass and later switched to a midfield role as an outfield player.

The bubbly athlete described the Olympic Games as weird as athletes cannot support their fellow athletes at the stadiums due to the strict Covid-19 measures.

“The village is world-class, Tokyo has done well to put everything together. There is a competitive vibe and a balance between everything in the Olympic village. The coach allowed us to experience everything and fit in the first three days.

"You can feel the concentration of the athletes and focus, and everyone is here to do the job for their country after the first three days. The beds situation became the talk of the village. There are funny videos circulated regarding the design, structure, and purpose of the beds, and it is always entertaining to see. It's been a light moment here," said Julius.

Team SA is in a bubble and cannot leave the village, and Julius said it is always fun to pick up the trends floating around in the Olympic Stadium at the Tokyo Village.

“We train every day and the weather here is different from home. It is hot, and we play in the heat of the sun. Everyone is wearing a face mask, and in the middle of the table, there is a plastic shield protecting you and the person sitting next to you. We test every day, and if there is a positive test about the opponent, we know about it.

SA lost 1-3 against Great Britain and 3-5 against the Netherlands. They will play their third game against Belgium tomorrow at 11.30am, SA time, at the Oi Hockey in Tokyo.

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