FROM the sun-soaked glory of Commonwealth Games gold to a chilly local derby in the space of two weeks.
That’s the incredible prospect facing Australian hockey star Lachi Sharp, who on the weekend played a pivotal role as the Kookaburras secured the gold medal at the Gold Coast games.
The 20-year-old was on the pitch as the home-crowd favourites overcame a spirited New Zealand side 2-0 in the competition’s finale to take their place atop the podium.
But it will be a different outlook for Sharp on Saturday, April 28 when he dons the Lithgow Zig Zag uniform in their men’s Premier League Hockey 2018 season opener.
In the midst of a well-earned break from Kookaburras duties, the national representative will suit up for his long-time club against arch-rivals Panthers.
“The Australian coaching staff have given us three weeks off,” Sharp explained.
“I’m going to spend two weeks in Lithgow relaxing, but I’ll be playing for my Sydney side Ryde, as well as for Zig Zag in the local derby.
His addition will be a welcome boost for Zig Zag, who will undoubtedly make the most of not only Sharp’s skills but his experience at the sport’s elite level.
Commonwealth gold capped a meteoric rise for the Lithgow product, who was plucked from the national development squad late last year to be elevated to the national team for the World League finals, making his international debut against India.
He permanently swapped his hi-vis gear for Australia’s green and gold uniform when he was invited to join the national squad in Perth – where he now resides – in January.
His elevation to the international ranks was punctuated on Saturday evening when he was presented with his gold medal, a moment Sharp described as “awesome”.
“The first night I had the medal on the whole time,” he said.
“Since then it’s just been great to have it and to show it to friends and family.”
Sharp said the honour of representing his country was not one he was likely to take for granted any time soon.
“Even though I am new to the squad I always had some hope there before I was picked,” he said.
“When you stop and think you’re one of the top 18 players in the country it’s a special feeling, one you can’t take lightly.”
Sharp has a rich hockey pedigree – both his parents played and his mother Tania represented NSW, as did his two siblings at junior level.
He and his Kookaburras teammates will now turn their attention to the World Cup, to be held in India at the end of the year.