USA Softball opens practice in Athens; team visits venue for first time
ATHENS, GREECE – The USA Softball Women’s Olympic Team began its preparations for the 2004 Olympic Games with a practice at the Helliniko Softball Complex in Athens on Saturday. The team used the two hour window to get in some infield work along with batting practice.
“It’s good to get here and get the jet lag out of the way,” said assistant coach John Rittman. “The facility here in Athens is world class and the fields are immaculate. The team is extremely focused and on a mission.”
The team checked in the village on Friday night and had rave reviews after their first night.
“The village is huge and we are one of the few teams here so far,” said two-time Olympian Leah O’Brien-Amico. “We should be able to serve as the tour guide once the other athletes arrive.”
“We have everything we could ask for in the village including 24 hour food service, laundry facilities and one of the largest workout facilities I have ever seen,” said two-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Fernandez. “It’s good to be here this early and get the awe of the whole experience out of the way and concentrate on preparing for the upcoming competition.”
The team continued preparations on Monday and Tuesday with practices at the Olympic venue and the American College of Greece. It holds its last open practice for the media at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday. All other practices will be closed unless announced by USA Softball.
USA Softball, which has been ranked No. 1 in the world for 18 consecutive years, will attempt to win its third consecutive Olympic gold medal when it takes the field on August 14. After its opening game versus Italy, the U.S. faces each of the medalist from the past two Olympics in succession. The U.S. faces 1996 and 2000 bronze medalist Australia on August 15, 2000 silver medalist Japan on August 16, and 1996 silver medalist China on August 17.