Rio 2016 Olympics and playing it cool in front of Andy Murray - Maddie Hinch

Maddie Hinch in her room at the Olympic village
Maddie making herself at home in her room at the Olympic Village...

What does an athlete do in Rio before the Olympics begin? In her latest column for BBC Sport, Great Britain women's hockey goalkeeper Maddie Hinch writes about an "amazing" week and a half in Brazil, more encounters with famous sportspeople and the excitement and nerves of preparing for the team's first match...

'Amazing' start to life in Rio

It's hard to believe we'll be playing our first match in the Olympic Games this weekend. Let me write that again, the Olympic Games! Every single person in our squad has worked so hard to get here, to represent our nation, our sport and our team-mates, and I am just so excited.

We've been in Rio since last week - longer than most athletes. It's been very full on, good training, tactical work, gym sessions and getting used to our surroundings, while getting the excitement out of our systems early.

Everything we've seen has been fantastic. The athletes' village is top class and, as I write, I'm in the British School facility with a pool, gym and much more. It's a great environment and you might have seen it on one of the BBC's Facebook live videos when we were doing some training.

We've had our one and only day off and the coaches sent us up Sugarloaf Mountain, which had the most breathtaking views I've ever seen. We had a brilliant tour guide who was playing Brazilian music all the way up the mountain, and it just brought home exactly where we are.

Maddie Hinch looks out from Sugerloaf mountain
"Sugarloaf Mountain had the most breathtaking views I've ever seen in my life"

More encounters with famous athletes

We had a huge stroke of luck meeting Usain Bolt on the way out at Heathrow, and since then we've seen loads more famous athletes.

I saw rugby player Sonny Bill Williams - he is huge, and the photo of me and my team-mate Georgie Twigg next to him is quite funny. Crista Cullen was chatting in the lift with Tom Daley, Sam Quek met Novak Djokovic, Sophie Bray was next to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the dining room and we also saw Rafael Nadal.

But, as a group, we want to be very respectful of athletes when they're at work. We were proud of ourselves for playing it cool when Andy Murray arrived, then the men's hockey team bowled up to him and all had pictures done.

Georgie Twigg, Sonny Bill Williams and Maddie Hinch
Sonny Bill Williams was part of the New Zealand team that won the Rugby World Cup last October

'It's been a real rollercoaster'

As I packed my kit for Rio, I was thinking back and I might not have even been here but for a stroke of luck in my youth.

I couldn't get into my county team, but when I was 17 the number one keeper got ill, I finally got a chance and within a year I had a Youth Olympics gold medal.

Even after that I got dropped at national level, so it's been a real rollercoaster, and it's going to sound cheesy but I wouldn't have it any other way. With all that's gone on and me missing out on London 2012, it's made me more ready this time around.

Like I said in my last blog, I want to enjoy these Games and play with a smile because that's the best way to help the team.

'Playing well in front of thousands - what more could you want?'

Maddie Hinch and Crista Cullen
"Roomie Crista Cullen and I getting our RIO vibe on," wrote Maddie on her Instagram page

I was talking to an athlete in an individual sport out here, and they were asking me how it works being in a team.

One of the things that really interested them is when I said we worked with a psychologist to set out our vision as a team: be the difference, create history and inspire the future. It's our job to put them into practice every single day.

We're in this game because we love it. Sometimes when you're training in the winter it's easy to forget, but we absolutely love it. When you're playing well in front of thousands of people, what more could you want?

Regardless of medals, one of our goals is to inspire people to pick up a hockey stick. We know our role as ambassadors and it goes throughout the team.

Performing under pressure

With up to eight games in 14 days, it's physically impossible for every single player to be at their absolute peak in every match. So our coach Danny Kerry has drilled into us the importance of knowing our roles and how we help the team, even if we're a couple of percent off our normal level.

For me in goal, the starting point is being positive in my communication and constantly talking with the defence - that's my trigger to help the team as best I can, and my performance comes from that foundation.

Danny knows the work is done - we've shown we can perform under pressure, most recently in Valencia when we qualified and had to dig deep. We know it's in there.

'We want to do you proud'

We are so excited to get started. We've had two training games against Spain and China, so we are ready to go.

Without doubt there'll be nerves on game day, especially as it's quite a late start - 20:30 Brazil time (00:30 BST) - so I'll have to get a nap in the afternoon

Even if you followed the game at London 2012, it has moved on since then and this is a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase hockey. Thank you in advance for staying up late and, as a group, we want to do you proud.

You can watch the game live on BBC One

GB women's hockey Olympic fixtures (all times BST)
Sunday, 7 August: v Australia (00:30)
Monday, 8 August: v India (22:00)
Wednesday, 10 August: v Argentina (17:30)
Thursday, 11 August: v Japan (00:30)
Saturday, 13 August: v USA (22:00)
Monday, 15 August: Quarter-finals
Wednesday, 17 August: Semi-finals
Friday, 19 August: Final & bronze medal match

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