By Steve Ginsburg
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With much of the world anxiously counting down the hours until the beginning of the London Olympics, Cat Osterman admits her passion for the sporting spectacle is half-hearted at best.
The two-time medal-winning pitcher for the United States softball team traces her lack of enthusiasm to her sport being eliminated from the Olympic program.
"We're excited for people we know that get to go over again but you can't help but think we should be going through processing, we should be getting on a flight soon, we should be over there," she told Reuters in a telephone interview Monday.
"I can't say I see commercials for London and I'm overexcited about it."
Osterman helped the U.S. to the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Games, the swan song for the sport in the Olympics.
The 29-year-old southpaw, arguably the sport's most well-known player, said she has friends participating in London and perhaps for that reason alone will watch the Games on TV.
"There's just a little bit of an edge when you watch it knowing you should be over there, maybe you should get to watch it live, instead of on TV," said Osterman, who plays in the National Pro Fastpitch league.
She said softball did not get a fair shake as an Olympic sport and discounted the belief held by many that Americans were just too dominant. U.S. teams have earned three golds and one silver during Olympic play.
"There were four Olympics but that's not a lot," said Osterman, who won a gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games. "You have to allow countries to catch up and allow the sport to grow.
"Obviously, softball is not very popular in Europe but they didn't really give it a lot of time to grow. They didn't even give people a chance to make it grow there.
"It was a short-lived reality and really unfair."
The Americans outscored their opponents 51-1 in winning the 2004 gold but four years later lost the title game to Japan.
"We've always had close games with Japan, Australia has always been a formidable opponent and even China every now and then has a great pitcher that can hold us too," Osterman said.
"People didn't get to see the international competition year-in and year-out. They saw it only every four years. Every year it's a dogfight."
Softball officials are partnering with baseball -- also given the Olympic guillotine -- with hopes of getting back into the program in 2020.
By then Osterman will have missed a chance to redeem herself after being saddled with the loss in Japan's 3-1 victory in the Beijing title game.
"No way in 2020," she said. "I'm already coming to the end of my career in a couple of years. When I joined the national team I always thought 2012 would be it.
"No way I could hold on that much longer."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)
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