Fans welcome Knowles at airport
IT may have been two weeks since three Rockhampton hockey players won bronze at the London Olympics, but support from local fans hasn't waned.
More than 30 people turned up at Rockhampton Airport yesterday afternoon to welcome home a local hero - Mark Knowles.
For 10-year-old Alysha Barnett, meeting Knowles and seeing his bronze medal was an extraordinary experience.
She said it was extraordinary because she still couldn't believe he had gone to the London Olympics and represented Australia.
"He played really good," the under-11s Frenchville Rovers player said.
Knowles was happily surprised at the welcome.
"It was great," he said.
"It's good to see people here, especially after a week or two but I suppose it's the first medal after Matty didn't get his home … it's great to be home and see so many familiar faces."
Knowles said he would only be spending a week in his home town, resting with his wife Kelly and nine-month-old son, Flynn.
"I've got to get back into a little bit of training because I start my club commitments in Holland next weekend, so I'm just here for a week and then straight out back into it," he said.
As for his Olympic achievements, Knowles is still trying to work through the conflicting emotions of having missed out on the gold medal.
"I'm very proud to win a bronze medal," he said.
"Obviously I'm disappointed as well because if you ask any of the team, we are much better than bronze. But I think when I look back on my career later on, I'll be very proud. At the moment, it's a bit of disappointment."
As for the best and worst achievements on the field in London, Knowles said the goals against Great Britian were important.
"The last thing we wanted on that last day was to come away with nothing," he said.
"The second or third goal to get clear of Great Britain on that bronze medal game were probably the best ones.
"The most disappointing ones were against Germany in that semi-final where we just conceded easy goals."
Knowles' message to aspiring hockey players - "I think just stick at it. You've got to have goals. You've got to have dreams.
"Hard work, dedication and enjoyment are the three things I think you need.
"I'm very lucky to be where I am at the moment."