TOKYO (Nexstar) — The official start to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics gets underway Friday with the Opening Ceremony, but for some athletes, competition has already started.
Team USA Softball was on the field Wednesday for its first game at the Olympics since 2008 — the last time softball was an Olympic sport.
For pitcher Cat Osterman, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will mark her last shot to strike for gold.
“I think a lot of people want me to say I played again, because I want to avenge a silver medal, but that’s not the truth. I felt like the Olympics are a very special platform, and you have to have some kind of experience to go succeed on that platform,” Osterman said.
She knows that well; she’s already won gold in 2004 and silver in 2008.
The former University of Texas player is now a three-time Olympian who came out of retirement for the Tokyo Games.
“The fact that I’m going, and I am 38-years-old — I think that’s a little bit surreal. I’m a little crazy,” she said.
It’s the first time the sport is back on the Olympic roster since Beijing 2008, and it’ll be a while before you see softball on the Olympic stage again. The sport is not set to return for Paris 2024.
For Osterman, that means Tokyo 2020 is also about the next generation.
“I felt that it was a responsibility if I could get myself back in shape to play. There was a part of — competitively, I wanted to — but there was part of me that felt like if I can give these younger athletes a chance to be on the gold medal podium then I need to try. So I went to work, and thankfully it all worked out,” Osterman explained.
Team USA won 2 to 1 against Italy. Osterman was the team’s starting pitcher. She struck out nine and only had one hit.
The team is back on the field to face Team Canada Thursday.
Another Texan playing in the opening rounds is Team Mexico’s first base player Tori Vidales. She’s a former Texas A&M Aggie from Houston. Team Mexico lost to Team Canada Wednesday night.