by Yvonne Gardiner
JOY Payne's achievements as a hockey player alone make her well qualified to carry the Queen's Baton in the lead-up to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
While she missed out on tickets to the opening ceremony on April 4, she'll be taking centre-stage with the baton the day before.
"I'm going to ask if my grandchildren can walk with me," the Clear Island Waters resident said.
The peak of Joy's hockey career was making it into the World XI in 1963.
Playing first grade hockey from the age of 14, she was only 20 when she won her first Australian honours to represent her country at the World Championships in Amsterdam in 1959.
Joy remembers the Australian Government gave each player 60 pounds to help with expenses for a trip that was "absolutely exciting".
"It was a six-weeks' boat trip from Sydney to Gibraltar. We travelled on the Arcadia," she said.
"Nobody flew in those days. We left Sydney and went to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, and picked up players along the way.
"Then we went across to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and played, then from Ceylon we went through the Suez Canal.
"We got off and saw the Pyramids and had a wonderful time."
From Gibraltar, the players took the train through Spain and Belgium.
"Most of the way we were billeted and entertained," Joy said.
"We went to England and then across to Amsterdam."
At home, Joy represented NSW in hockey for 17 years.
Her citation at the Orange Sporting Hall of Fame describes her as "a brilliant athlete at school".
"Joy had to choose between the two sports and, luckily for hockey, her decision went that way and she eventually rose to be captain of New South Wales and vice-captain of Australia," it reads.
"In 1963, in a match played in scorching heat in Maryland, Australia trailed Germany by 1-0 with four minutes to play. Joy slammed in the equaliser and then stunned the Germans with one minute to play when she belted in the winning goal for Australia."
Joy retired from A grade hockey in 1975.
She says the highlight of her sporting career was all the friends she made.
"The people of hockey were tremendous," she said.
"It was a wonderful camaraderie. I value those friendships greatly."
Joy was a primary school teacher until her retirement in 1993.
"For most of my life, I taught the gifted and talented children," she said.
"I still see a few of them."
She has also taught swimming and PE.
The 79-year-old is still active, playing tennis twice a week.
She is among more than 3500 bearers who will bring the baton across the country to the opening ceremony at the Gold Coast.