Sharp admits trip to School Games has him feeling like an Olympian
UP-and-coming hockey player Joe Sharp admits he's struggling to keep a lid on his fan club ahead of his exclusive taste of the London 2012 Olympics next week.
Representing England in the capital at the Sainsbury's School Games, which is backed by National Lottery funding from Sport England, is a draw enough in itself for the extended family.
But with the event taking place at the London 2012 hockey venue, less than three months before the Games themselves begin, Sharp admits he is resembling an actual Olympian in terms of his domestic popularity.
The 18-year-old is well at home in England colours - having taken part in the 2010 UK School Games before missing last year's event through injury.
And he, and his family it seems, can't wait to see him represent his country in the most iconic of surroundings.
"It's great to be selected as it's a great tournament," said Sharp. "I played at the UK School Games two years ago in Newcastle, but I missed out last year in Sheffield because I was injured, so it's great to be back for this inaugural event.
"I've seen the Olympic stuff on television before, so it will be special to go down there and see how it all looks and how ready it is, but also to play there will be extra special.
"To represent England down there, just before our professional athletes do, it has not really sunk in yet but it will be a fantastic moment when it comes about.
"It will be a once in a lifetime I think. I've got a lot of people who wanted to come, when family found out everyone was saying ‘oh I want to come' but I was not able to get too many tickets.
"I got as many as I could, which was four, so they might have to fight for the tickets a little bit. My parents are chuffed as well because they'll be able to come and watch me play, and also see everything about the Olympics so they might enjoy it just as much as I will."
And if the form book is anything to go by the Sharp family outing will not be just a sightseeing excursion, when they attend the event which is supported by a range of partners including the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Youth Sport Trust.
Sharp, who plays for Belper Hockey Club, has just returned from a successful outing - taking gold at the Four Nations tournament, which pitted them against Germany, Spain and Holland.
"We came back from the Four Nations recently," he added. "It was a tournament with us, Germany, Spain and Holland, and we won that, so that's left us all feeling really confident about our chances in May.
"Those are the best teams in Europe as well so it is hugely encouraging for all of us."
The Sainsbury's 2012 School Games is being held in the Olympic Park and other venues from 6-9 May 2012 with school-aged elite athletes competing across 12 sports. Visit www.2012schoolgames.com for more information.
© Sportsbeat 2012