Rechelle Hawkes has recalled reading the Olympic oath at Sydney 2000 ©Getty Images

The only athlete with a speaking part at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Opening Ceremony has revealed how she was more concerned about her team-mates in the crowd than the television audience of billions.

Triple hockey gold medallist Rechelle Hawkes took the athletes' oath exactly 20-years-ago and described the experience as "humbling".

COVID-19 travel restrictions meant Hawkes was unable to travel from her home in Perth to attend the 20th anniversary re-lighting ceremony in the Sydney Olympic Park.

In 2000, as the captain of the women’s team in Sydney, she became the fourth woman to take the oath at a Summer Games before capturing her third gold with her side.

Her part was revealed a few days before at the Australian flag raising ceremony in the Olympic Village.

She was handed a "palm" card with the wording of the oath, which for the first time included "committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs".

"There was a mention of doping and drugs in there," Hawkes said. 

"I personally believe that it was a really good addition to the oath because that's what we should aspire to as Olympic athletes.

"We should be competing at our very best and on a level playing field.

"Those particular words should resonate with athletes and should be part of the Olympics and I was more than happy for those words to be included in the oath.

"The pressure was already beginning to mount because the media were saying 'do you know there are billions of people all around the world watching, so don't stuff it up?' 

"Athletes were coming up to me and saying 'that's a great honour'.

"I not only had to focus on starting to perform at the Olympics Games once our first game started, but also read this oath and not embarrass myself.

Rechelle Hawkes won her third Olympic gold medal in Sydney ©Getty Images
Rechelle Hawkes won her third Olympic gold medal in Sydney ©Getty Images

"So I was going back to my room after training sessions rehearsing the oath with my room-mate.

"It was only about 20 words but gee, they were pretty tough to get out." 

Hockey coach Ric Charlesworth, the flag bearer when Hawkes made her Olympic debut in 1988, insisted on an audition before the big night.

"It was hopeless," Hawkes added.

"I said 'I think I can do it in front of the worldwide audience, I don't want to do it in front of you anymore', and sent him on his way."

On the night itself, Hawkes was given a massage before entering the stadium.

The oath was taken after the raising of the Olympic flag and shortly before the arrival of the Flame.

"I remember seeing the hockey team down the very front looking at me," Hawkes said. 

"I just couldn't look at them, they would have distracted me no end.

"I had to find a point in the crowd above them.

"I still remember people said 'just read the thing because if you try and remember it, it might not work out'. 

"Because Edwin Moses had done that in 1984 and forgot his lines, so I read it."