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Novak Djokovic left a fellow Olympian starstruck at Rio 2016

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic
Mihir Gawade
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 29 Jul 2020, 02:22 IST
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If you are a budding 22-year-old athlete playing in your first Olympics and sharing the Olympic Village with some of the most legendary athletes ever, you can't be faulted for constantly having butterflies in your stomach. That was exactly the case with field hockey player Rose Keddell, who was left fumbling for words when she saw the best tennis player in the world - Novak Djokovic - at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Novak Djokovic at the Rio 2016 Olympics
Novak Djokovic at the Rio 2016 Olympics

Keddell was in Rio de Janeiro with the New Zealand field hockey team in what was her first senior Olympics. She had previously won the bronze Medal with her country at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) of Singapore 2010.

I couldn't believe I was playing at the same thing as Novak Djokovic: Rose Keddell

Rose Keddell talked about the experience of staying in Rio for the Games, and said it was a "weird realization" that she was actually at the Village with some of the most famous athletes and Olympians of all time.

Keddell had no trouble recalling the moment which made her feel like she had made it big time. It was when she was informed that Novak Djokovic was training on the tennis courts just a few metres away from her.

Novak Djokovic is known for his wholesome fan interactions
Novak Djokovic is known for his wholesome fan interactions

Keddell was in the dining area in the Village with her teammates when there was a sudden commotion, as everyone started hurrying their way to the tennis courts to watch a practice session of Novak Djokovic's.

"I remember we were sitting in the dining area one day and everyone was running over to the tennis court because [Novak] Djokovic was having a hit," Rose Keddell said.

It was then that the sheer size of the stage dawned on the YOG bronze medalist, who comes from a small beach town on New Zealand's North Island.

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"All of a sudden I was like, ‘Wow, I'm at this event and so is Djokovic. I can't believe I'm playing at the same thing that he is.’ It's a weird realization that you’re actually there,” Keddell added.

It was a disappointing end for New Zealand's campaign at the Games though, as the team had to settle for fourth place in women's hockey. They narrowly missed out on a bronze medal after losing to Germany.

But it sure must have been a hell of an experience and a learning curve for young Rose Keddell, who got to share the stage with some of the biggest sporting personalities including Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic failed to win a medal in Rio 2016
Novak Djokovic failed to win a medal in Rio 2016

As for the Serb, it was a forgetful Olympics for him too as he fell in the opening round to Juan Martin Del Potro. But he certainly managed to make someone's day if not his own!

Published 29 Jul 2020, 02:22 IST
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