News for 29 June 2012

All the news for Friday 29 June 2012
Ireland down South Africa in opener

Ireland scored an impressive 4-2 victory over the No 12 World ranked Olympic bound South African side.  Ireland opened the scoring in the 8 minute when Chris Cargo got a deft touch.  SA had started the brighter and had their first of 6 penalty corners in the 10 minute after good work by Lloyd Norris  Jones.  Ireland went 2 goals up with John Jermyn slotted home a penalty stroke after feet on the line.  South Africa were awarded a stroke of their own but former Corinthian player coach Andrew Cronje hit the cross bar.  SA did get one back just before the half Lance Louw scored in the 31st minute.

Ireland had the brighter start to the second half with Watt and Cockram combining well.  In the 41st minute Watt got 10 min yellow for over zealous challenge but in that period Ireland extended their lead in the 43rd minute following great work from Magee passing to Cargo and he played a lovely ball for the sliding Cockram to score from close range.  It was 4-1 in the 51st minute flowing after a great break by Cockram who played a lovely one two Carson with Cockram then playing in former Garvey team mate Jason Lynch for a 4-1 lead.  Ireland had their second yellow of the game when Bruce McCandless for a 5 minute break in the 57th minute.  South Africa got their 2nd in the 67 minute scored by Lloyd Norris Jones and had a penalty corner on the hooter but Harte saved again to deny the South Africans.

Ireland have a rest day tomorrow with their next game on Saturday at 4pm v Scotland.  Ireland start their Celtic Cup campaign tomorrow Friday when they play Scotland at 18.30

Full Celtic Cup Schedule on www.hockey.ie

IRELAND (2) 4-2  (1) SOUTH AFRICA

IRELAND 4
(Timmy Cockram 43, Christopher Cargo 8m, Jason Lynch 51m, John Jermyn 19m)
SOUTH AFRICA 2 (Lloyd Norris Jones 67m, Lance Louw 31m)

Ireland: David Harte (GK), Conor Harte, John Jackson (Capt), Kenny Carroll, Michael Watt, Chris Cargo, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Jonathan Bell, Timothy Cockram, Jonathan Bruton,
Subs: David Carson, Jason Lynch, Bruce McCandless, Daivd Hobbs, Stephen Dowds
Non playing: Ian Hughes, Philip Brown

South Africa: Wade Patton, Andrew Cronje, Lloyd Mardsen, Austin Smith (Capt), Marvin Harper, Julian Hykes, Lloyd Jones, Rhett Halkett, Erasmus Pieterse (GK), Justin Reid Ross, Taine Paton.
Subs: Jonathon Roberts, Timothy Drummond, Lance Louw, Thornton McDade, Ian Hale
Non Playing: Jacques Le Roux, Clinton Panther

Irish Hockey Association media release



SA hockey men lose to Ireland in Celtic Cup opener

PJ VAN ROOYEN in Ireland


The South African men's hockey team lost their opening match of their European tour to Ireland 4-2 on Thursday evening in the first match of the Celtic Cup.

he South African side struggled to cope with slippery surfaces and at times lacked composure in the final third of the pitch, with passes and shots not finding their targets in the Irish area.

Ireland opened the scoring in the sixth minute after a precise pass from the midfield found Michael Watt in the South African area. Watt laid it off to Timothy Cockram who scored past SA goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse.

SA were awarded their first penalty corner  five minutes later with drag-flick specialist Justin Reid-Ross driving a low shot into Irish keeper, David Harte, but a goalmouth scuffle resulted in another penalty corner, which SA fumbled in the Irish area.

Ireland doubled their lead in the 18th minute after the hosts were awarded a penalty corner for a South African infringement.

Pieterse saved the initial shot from the Irish attack, but a further infringement by a desperate South African defence resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded to Ireland, which Irish midfielder John Jermyn stroked home.

The visitor’s had their first real opportunity four minutes later, when they too were awarded a penalty stroke, which SA defender Andrew Cronje unfortunately missed, hitting the crossbar as a golden opportunity went begging.

SA looked the more likely to score towards the end of the first half, with the defenders building play from within their own half, the resulting pressure eventually led to the visitor's first goal.

Lance Louw converted a chance from close range after a frantic tussle in the Irish area, with SA attacker Ian Haley making the initial dart into the area, and Louw - playing in his 49th Test - slotting home.

SA kept up the pressure with both attackers, Lloyd Norris-Jones and Thornton McDade coming close.

Ireland came out after the break looking to re-capture their two goal lead and the pressure told as Cockram scored his second after a clinical move saw Eugene Magee finding Cockram with nothing but the goal ahead of him.

Ireland goalkeeper David Harte put in an excellent effort as he saved South Africa's third penalty corner of the game. Harte was called into action again two minutes later as SA searched for their second, saving an effort from Lloyd Madsen from SA's fourth penalty corner.

Ireland never looked like giving up their lead as they advanced on the slippery turf, scoring their fourth goal 15 minutes into the second period. Cockram was called into action once more as he layed off an excellent pass to Irish forward David Carson who found Jason Lynch, with Lynch coolly slotting home for the hosts.

SA had a much better end to their second half and never gave up searching for their second goal. Lloyd Norris-Jones rounded off a quick counter attack, lobbing the ball over Harte from the left flank.

Norris-Jones' goal gave the SA side a boost and they kept up their momentum into the final minutes of the game.

As the clock ticked down, SA were awarded their sixth penalty corner, but once again goalkeeper Harte saved a fantastic effort from captain Austin Smith to give the Irish a confident 4-2 victory.

SA Press Association (SAPA)

SA Hockey Association media release



In the Spotlight.... Korea Men

A closer look at the 24 teams participating in the Olympics



Korea will rely on their teamwork to power through the Olympics (Photo: Adrian Boehm)

'In the Spotlight' is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days. Today we take a closer look at the Korean men's national team.

The Basics:
Currently world number six, Korea’s men come into the tournament on 1490 points, just below Spain and ahead of New Zealand in the latest FIH World Ranking list. Their best showing in the competition came back in Sydney in 2000 when they took silver, only denied the top prize by the Netherlands on penalty strokes. They first played in the Olympics when hosting in Seoul in 1988 and have played in four more Games since then. In recent times, Korea finished sixth at the 2010 World Cup and were eighth and last in the 2011 Champion’s Trophy.

The Road to London:
Korea became the last side from the world’s top ten to claim their place at the Games, doing so in dramatic fashion. They edged out Ireland with a Nam Yong Lee goal – awarded on a video referral after initially being ruled out – inside the last ten seconds of their OQT final in Dublin. It secured a 3-2 victory. They had been thrown into the qualifiers by virtue of a fourth place finish at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Players to Watch:
Collective is king for Korea but there is a robust aggression and power in the forward manoeuvres of Lee Nam Yong who regularly takes on the point at the top of their front-line. Nam Hyun Woo has a graceful air, overlapping from either right or left back while the panel is packed with a wealth of experience with the volume of current players with over a century of caps numbering in double figures. Among them, You Hyo Sik has already led the line in two World Cups and two Olympics as a goal-hungry forward, following his father’s footsteps into the national team. Ho Seo Jong is another top-drawer performer, named on the FIH All Star team in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Coach:
Shin Seok Kyo took over after the sixth-place finish at the 2008 Olympics from Cho Sung Jun. His tenure started well, gaining bronze in the 2009 Champions Trophy with victory over the Netherlands – Korea’s best result in nine years. A sixth place World Cup finish in 2010 was a par-showing but the past two years have seen the side keep up the pace and coach Shin has a big job to arrest a run of form which dropped Korea to fourth in Asia and last in the Champions Trophy last December. His tactical nous, though, was in evidence in the Olympic qualifier as his more aggressive setup helped turn the tide against Ireland, dominating the closing phases to ultimately secure their ticket to London.

Strengths:
Very much a team that works as a unit, their ability to apply a couple of different, effective presses was key to their progression to the Games as they squeezed the life out of Ireland in their ultimate qualifier in March. A high work-rate is a given for the Asian side and allows them to put in long stints of high presses to affect turnovers in advanced positions while their speed on the counter matches the method well. Goalkeeper Lee Myung Ho marshals a tight-knit defence packed with guts and likely never to shirk a full-blooded, diving tackle.

Weaknesses:
Blessed with pace up front, they look to be slightly shy on creativity and firepower in the final quarter, relying on corners and a rudimentary, crash ball style from play to eke out the vital scores. Cards for stick tackles can be an Achilles Heel, too.

Crystal Ball:
Reaching the heights of 2000 looks likely to be beyond the current vintage as their fifth place finish at the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in June and eighth at the Champions Trophy last December seem to portray. Nonetheless, they are capable of big results in one-off ties with their wealth of experience of the big stages. They could prove a bogey side throughout the group stages but whether they have enough nous to reach the medal positions looks a bridge too far.

FIH site



SA hockey on the rise

By Rob Peters



SA women's hockey star Kate Woods in action.

It’s been a good year for South African hockey with both the women’s and men’s teams securing qualification for the London Olympics. The women’s team, in particular, has been impressive with some big scalps claimed, including Great Britain in June. 

Having secured sponsorship with Investec, the side has been able to play far more regularly, and the result of the increase in games – against some of the top sides in the world – is clearly paying off.

The team now heads into the Games confident of competing against the best, and after holding defending champions the Netherlands to a draw – before losing out on penalties – last month, there is every reason to consider them a medal hope for SA as well.

iafrica.com’s Rob Peters spoke to double-Olympian and one of the senior members of the team, Kate Woods, about the team’s good form, how the current crop compare to the team in Beijing and improved coverage of SA hockey.

Rob Peters (RP):
The team has been enjoying a fantastic run of form this year. What do you attribute that to?

Kate Woods (KW): Experience! The average number of caps in the team at the moment is nearly 150! This is remarkable and something that is giving the team confidence and much-needed experience to compete with the top teams.

RP: The side has been playing regularly in the lead-up to the Olympics, which will undoubtedly help. Has there been an impetus on more matches and against better opposition this time around?

KW: Definitely. [Coach] Giles [Bonnet] has worked long and hard on our schedule and it has always been focused around playing teams that will challenge us and demand top performances from us. The amount of matches we are now playing in a year has almost doubled in the last two years (under Giles) when compared to previous years.

RP: How does the current side compare to the team in 2008 in Beijing?

KW: The team is older and more experienced. There are only five players that have not been to the Olympics before. This will also help the team to perform better and deal with all the distractions.

RP: You are one of the veterans in the side – do you enjoy the senior role?

KW: Veteran - wow that sounds old! But yes, I enjoy being able to provide some guidance and support where relevant. My leadership role is more on the field – the youngsters teach me a thing or two off the field!

RP: Coverage has always been a problem in the past, but it seems that is starting to change with more televised matches. Has there been more public interest in the team?

KW: Absolutely. I was completely overwhelmed after the Olympic Qualifier. We really felt as if the entire country were behind us. We have received enormous support and this is all thanks to our sponsors Investec who have created a really professional set-up in all areas, but particularly with regards to media exposure.

RP: The win over Great Britain – ranked fourth in the world – was obviously a massive one, but just how tough will the Olympic competition be?

KW: It was a great boost in confidence for us to see that we can compete with the top teams in the world. The Olympic Games will be on a completely different level though. These teams will step up another gear and we will have to do the same in order to get similar results. We have shown that we can compete against any team, but now we have to do it on the biggest stage come July!

RP: Who are the biggest threats in your group and does the team have any initial goals heading into the Games?

KW: The teams we are gunning for points against are New Zealand, Australia and USA. We face Argentina and Germany as well, these teams will be tougher opposition – they are ranked two and three in the world - but anything can happen. A draw against one of the two could mean a very big difference for us... We are aiming for a top six finish – considering our current world ranking this is a huge ask, but a challenge we are certainly up for!

RP: The team had a bit of an ‘awkward’ moment during the anthems earlier this week... did that serve to give you a little extra motivation or did you just brush it all off?

KW: Yes... in the team huddle we definitely did feel a bit of aggression and extra motivation to go out and prove a point! It was hugely disappointing that they could not get the anthem right, but we tried to stay focused on the game and job at hand.

Iafrica.com



South African hockey hedges its bets

Dylan Rogers


The SA hockey team does not have the experience to win a medal at the Olympics, but recent results show they could spring some surprises.

South Africa’s women’s hockey team will not win a medal at the ­upcoming Olympic Games in London. That is according to the world rankings and the captain of the team itself.

But do not be too hard on Marsha Marescia.

If you read between the lines, it is hard to overlook that the national women’s hockey team has something going for it and could spring a surprise or two in London over the coming months.

Their results speak for themselves. A win over Great Britain and a draw with the Netherlands – both Olympic-medal contenders, according to Marescia – at the recent London Cup suggest they cannot be too far off.

Not so, said the 29-year-old midfielder, who is on the verge of her third Olympic campaign.

“We had good results against the Netherlands and Great Britain, but we have to be realistic about where we are in our programme. The tournaments that we played were preparation tournaments and by no means a peaking moment for any of those teams.

“They have all the experience in playing for medals at the Olympic Games and World Cup events, whereas we do not,” said Marescia.

Preparation

This talk of a “programme” is central to where the South African team is at the moment, with Marescia pointing out that the squad embarked on its path, from a selection, strategic and overall approach point of view, only in May 2010 when Giles Bonnet took over as the national coach.

At the time, the national women’s team had been in limbo for six months. Bonnet came in and put together a 26-month preparation programme for London 2012 and a three-year programme for the national under-21 squad ahead of the Junior World Cup in 2013.

Twenty-six months may seem like a long time for those of us with short attention spans. But in the world of professional sport, or in this case, professional team hockey, ­apparently it is not.

“A lot of Olympic squads started their programmes three-and-a-half years ago,” said Marescia, “at least a year before the 2010 World Cup. We started our programme about three months before the World Cup.”

If that is the case, has the London Olympics come a little too soon for a South African women’s hockey team that has clearly made strides, but perhaps has not completed a full cycle and realised its potential?

World ranking

“I think so,” said Marescia. “If we can improve our world ranking [12th], which is our goal, and play for a top-eight position at the Olympics, then I think we will reap the benefits of it in the next two years.

“If you look at the programme that we have been on, we have had to play catch-up with the top teams and I think we have done an exceptional job of it. But we have always been behind them.”

What Bonnet has done is bring a noticeable professionalism to the national squad and tackle the areas of technical skills, physical conditioning, decision-making and on-field responsibility, specialist skills, set pieces and structures.

In addition, financial investment by team sponsor Investec has allowed him to bring in a host of specialist coaches in the form of Andrew Meredith (striking), Adel Fuentes (drag flicking) and Martijn Driver (goalkeeping), among others.

There is no doubt that Bonnet’s squad has reaped the benefits. In December 2010 it beat World Cup winner Argentina and there have  also been victories over China, Azerbaijan and Belgium. The victory over China was particularly pleasing, because the Chinese were ranked fourth in the world at the time and are now in fifth place.

Horribly wrong

The focus of 2011 was to secure Olympic qualification by nailing down a place in the final of the Champions Challenge in Ireland. But things went horribly wrong for team South Africa when a change in format resulted in them missing out despite finishing top of their pool.

“Lo and behold, the one year they change the structure it backfires on us,” said a now philosophical Marescia.

Fortunately, the women’s hockey team was afforded the opportunity to play in the International Hockey Federation’s Olympic qualifier in India this year, but they had to win it to satisfy the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee’s selection criteria.

They duly beat hosts India 3-1 in the final, but according to Marescia, “the pressure was incredible”.

Now to the games in London and the chance to go a few places better than the ninth achieved by the class of 2004 in Athens and the 11th place earned four years later in Beijing.

“We are not medal prospects,” said Marescia. “We are ranked 12th in the world and are the lowest-ranked team in our pool. We know that we’ve closed the gap between us and the top teams, but they are still more experienced in playing for top-four positions. So, I wouldn’t rank us a medal hopeful, but our goal is to play for eighth position.”

Cautious optimism

Nevertheless, there have been enough good results – albeit sporadic – over the past two years to suggest that Bonnet’s squad may have a bit more in them.

Cautious optimism appears the party line, though, and Marescia is under no illusions about who the favourites for medals are.

“The Netherlands are number one in the world and going for gold,’ she said. “Thereafter, Argentina, Germany and Great Britain are definitely medal hopefuls.”

At various stages in the past two years South Africa have pushed each of those big names. And although Marescia refuses to admit that they stand a chance of upsetting the form book, she has allowed herself to dream the ultimate dream, courtesy of her first Olympic memory as a wide-eyed nine-year-old schoolgirl in Durban.

“I watched Elana Meyer winning a silver medal in Barcelona in 1992,” she said. “I remember that clearly and it was fantastic for South Africa, considering the particular time of our country’s history. It also proved that my theory that you need experience to win a medal at the Olympic Games isn’t always right.”

So, some sort of concession at last. Is it really that much of a pipe dream to suggest that Marescia and company could sneak up on the outside and nick a medal in London?

“Who knows?” said Marescia. “Elana proved that anything is possible.”

Mail and Guardian



Olympic call for Queen's College sports teacher


IAN Haley in action IAN Haley in action

QUEEN’S College sports teacher Ian Haley has been selected to represent South Africa in the London Olympics this summer.

Haley has juggled his work at Queen’s in Taunton for five years on the sports fields and in the boarding house along with his training for Exeter University Hockey Club and country.

The striker said: “I am very grateful for the opportunity and I really appreciate how Queen’s have stood by me and helped me to get where I am now. “It’s great for the area and I am excited to fly the flag for the school.”

Haley has coached the Queen’s Under-13 boys side to become national champions.

Playing at Cannock Hockey Club where they triumphed against some very strong opposition.

Haley said: “I was very proud of the boys last month and along with this it is a great springboard for hockey at the school.”

Haley attended an intense conditioning camp at Bloemfontein over half term and was put through his paces with the rest of the South African squad. The announcement of the Olympic squad came from the South African Olympic Committee in the second half of the camp.

The 12 teams in the tournament have been based on two pools of six based on world rankings.

South Africa have been drawn against Australia, Great Britain, Spain, Pakistan and Argentina and will play each team once.

The top two teams in each pool will qualify for the semi-finals, with the winners of those matches going head-to-head for the gold medal.

The other teams in the two groups play each other to determine final placings.

This is the West Country



India maul Sri Lanka in Junior Women's Asia Cup

BANGKOK: India thrashed Sri Lanka 16-0 to start its campaign in emphatic fashion at the Junior Women's Asia Cup hockey tournament.

For India, as many as four players -- Anupa Barla, Vandana Katariya, Poonam Rani and Ritu Rani -- scored three goals each in the Group A match yesterday.

Navneet Kaur opened the floodgates with a field goal in the sixth minute before Anupa and Vandana added to the tally.

Vice-captain Poonam became the first Indian player to score off a penalty corner when she succeeded in the 17th minute before Lily Chanu Mayengbam made it 5-0 in the 22nd minute.

Poonam the scored off a penalty corner to go into the breather with a 6-0 lead.

The scenario was no different after the change of ends as India continued to put pressure on the hapless Lankans.

Vandana and Anupa scored their second goals within three minutes of resumption before Sushila Chanu and Poonam scored off penalty corner exercises.

Deep Ekka Grace converted a penalty stroke in the 44th minute to make it 11-0 in favour of the Indians.

India captain Ritu then scored three of the team's final five goals while Vandana and Anupa completed their tally of three goals each in a match where the Indians forced as many as 15 penalty corners and converted five out of them.

In another Group A match, Malaysia beat Singapore 7-0 while Japan defeated Pakistan 17-0 in a Group B contest.

The top three teams in the tournament will qualify for the 2013 FIH Junior Women World Cup.

The Times of India



Indian hockey team needs to work on penalty corners: Ex-players

RANCHI: Penalty corner conversion would be the key to Indian hockey team's success in next month's London Olympics, feel former players.

"Unless the Indian team converts two out of three penalty corners into goals in every game, it is very difficult for the team to match the likes of Holland, Germany and Australia," said Michael Kindo, part of the bronze-medal winning 1972 Munich Olympics team.

A fullback in the 1975 World Cup-winning team, Kindo put his faith on drag-flick specialist Sandeep Singh.

"On his day, hardly anyone can match Sandeep Singh in hitting targets in the penalty corners. I hope he excels in all the matches," Kindo, who had also excelled in India's silver and bronze medal feats in the 1971 and 1973 World Cup, said.

India, clubbed in Group 'B' along with Holland, Belgium, Germany, South Korea and New Zealand in the Games beginning July 27, had a good outing in the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia finishing third.

"If the boys continue to play the way they played in Malaysia, there is every chance of India getting an Olympic medal," says another fullback Sylvanus Dungdung, one of the stalwarts that fetched gold medal for India in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

"I hope the exposure trip to France and Spain will also help the team, which should focus on building up speed to match the Europeans...I also hope the team emulates our cricket team which won the World Cup after 28 years," he said.

Putting his hopes on midfielder Sardar Singh and forward Shivendra Singh to clinch penalty corners for the team, the 1984 Los Angles Olympic team's fullback Manohar Topno said any chance missed against teams like Holland will cost India dearly.

"With teams like Holland and Australia, we can't afford to miss a single scoring chance. I hope Sardar Singh and Shivendra Singh get more penalty corners to help Sandeep Singh convert them into goals," he said.

"Indian players also have the added pressure of matching the speed of the Europeans and Australians," Topno, who recently watched a tournament and was impressed with the speed of European players, said.

Former Indian women's hockey team captain Savitri Purti advised the team to go by the adage "Offence is the best form of defence".

"Defensive play will not yield any result. So the best way for Indian men's hockey team is to go bang-bang from start to finish," Purti felt.

The Times of India



US Women's Field Hockey Team Aims for London Podium

Parke Brewer


The United States has won only one medal in women’s Olympic field hockey, and that was a bronze when the nation hosted the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.  But this year’s team has high expectations that it will reach the podium at the London Olympics.

After receiving an automatic berth as host of women’s Olympic field hockey at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games, the United States failed to qualify for the event at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.  So it hired a new coach in 2005, Lee Bodimeade,  who won a silver medal playing men’s field hockey for Australia at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

He says his philosophy of the game, and the fact that the culture of Australian and American sports are similar, helped him get the job.

“It’s an aggressive mentality to go and get the ball," said Bodimeade. "And my real belief is empowering the athletes and having them be the driver to success which is ultimately what determines it.  And I wanted to give them the freedom to be able to play and make decisions on the run and, as I said, empower them to have the knowledge and ability to do so.”

Bodimeade guided the American women to a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  They were rated 11th in the 12-team field and finished 8th.  Seven of the Beijing players are on Bodimeade’s team for the London Games.

“What’s transpired since then is we have an addition of young, fast, skillful athletes that are elevating the performance, and so that’s what we’ve got," he said. "We’ve got the base level of senior players that have a very, very good fundamental base of skill, and now we have the real sharp elevated skill level from the newer players in the group.”

The U.S. women upset then-world number-one Argentina at last year’s Pan American Games in Mexico to earn an automatic Olympic berth  And in a recent series of pre-Olympic warm-up matches against the world champions in Virginia, the Americans and Argentines each won once and played to two draws.

Bodimeade says it is important for his players to test themselves against the best.

“Everything is about being able to execute the basic skills under extreme pressure and at speed," he said. "And the more you’re exposed to that, the more you’re able to adapt and be able produce at that level.  And we’ve really worked hard on our basic skill level and being able to do that under pressure, and that has driven our elevation of performance.”

The captain of the U.S. women’s field hockey team is 27-year-old central defender Lauren Crandall.

Bodimeade calls her an exceptional, disciplined hockey player who drives the team.

“She has to be all things.  She has to be smart," he said. "She has to be able to read the play exceptionally well, her ability to distribute [the ball] and to set our attacking plays.  She’s the key to it, and that’s what she does very well.”

Crandall grew up playing soccer, but switched to field hockey in high school.  She says she never had thoughts of competing in an Olympics.  She just loved the competition and worked hard at the sport without knowing where it might lead her.

Now, with recent successes, she and her teammates believe they can win an Olympic medal in London.

“You know we’re ranked 10th in the world right now, but we feel like if we follow the process like we have been and taking the steps that we need to, we’ll put ourselves in position to be standing on the podium at the end of the London Games," said Crandall.

To do it, the United States will need to get through round-robin matches in a difficult Pool B that includes Argentina, Australia, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa.

Coach Bodimeade says his team is ready for the challenge.

“Nobody goes to the Olympics for experience in my book," he said. "You are going there to win.  And that’s the belief that I have.  We’re going in there to put in these performances that will give us the result that we want.”

And that is to capture the first Olympic medal for U.S. women’s field hockey since 1984.

Voice of America




Aymar, Argentina's great hope for hockey gold


Luciana Aymar has already been awarded Argentina's highest honour for the London Olympics when she was named to carry her country's flag at the Opening Ceremony.

The midfielder has also been ordained in her soccer-mad homeland as the hockey equivalent of Diego Maradona but there is another prize that is driving Aymar more than anything else, the prospect of winning an elusive Olympic gold medal.

Aymar has achieved almost everything in hockey but never won an Olympic gold and time is running out for the 34-year-old, who plans to retire after the London Games. “I want to win the gold medal, it's the only one I'm missing,” said Aymar, who will celebrate her 35th birthday on the same day as the women's final. “The team is very ambitious, we're going to fight to try and get the gold. We're working towards that although we know it won't be easy.”

Individually, Aymar has already reached the summit of hockey success. She is the only woman to have won the world player of the year award seven times, earning her the nickname La Maga (the Magician).

Like Maradona, she roams the central midfield looking for any openings for herself and her teammates and the Argentine national team, Las Leonas (lionesses), have benefitted enormously.

During her international career, Argentina have won two World Cups, five Champions Trophies and medals at each of the past three Olympics.

Aymar won a silver at the 2000 Sydney Games then bronze in Athens and Beijing. Now she just wants the gold to complete the set.

"I know it's difficult because there are lots of very good teams, hockey has levelled out a lot and there are several candidates," she said.

But the possibility is there, Argentina have the chance to fight for the gold medal, I'm convinced of that.

Aymar has left no stone unturned in her bid to finish her dazzling career on the ultimate high, training harder than ever, but she also knows her state of mind will be just as important as her physical attributes.

"There is the anxiety of knowing it will be my last tournament," she said.

"But today all I think and do is centred around that gold medal I'm lacking: from when I get up at 7 a.m. to go and train, even during the rest breaks and how I eat."

"There's also the mental part. I've been working with a psychologist for some time on the issue of anxiety and what retirement means."

Regardless of whether she wins gold or not, Argentines are already in no doubt that she is the world's best player and the honour of carrying the flag is a worthy tribute.

“I'm happy for Luciana as a sportswoman, but more as a person, said Argentina coach Carlos Retegui.

This is a boost for the last six weeks' training. And it's an unconditional support from all Argentine sport for the team.”

Indian Express



Sweet 16 for Lee as GB hockey coach picks his Olympic squad

By Adam Shergold



Tough choice: Jason Lee (left)

It is the hardest part of any coach's job, the moment when you must decide who will play for you at the major tournament and who is cut from your plans.

But for Great Britain hockey coach Jason Lee, there must have been a sense of relief as he announced the 16 man squad for the London Olympic Games.

It was, he said, the culmination of a grueling seven-year process to decide upon the best group of players to compete at a competition where national expectations will be sky high.

Facing the media at the newly-opened Team GB House, part of the athletes' base for the Games now under a month away, he confided: 'I remember when we were awarded the Olympics [in 2005]. I was at our training base at Bisham Abbey and I just thought, 'Oh s**t'.

'This has been a seven-year process to select the squad. In targeting the event, we've been looking for competency, strength in depth and broad experience.

'The selection is a distraction. As a scientific process, It's was very complicated – there are so many ifs, buts and maybes. But you can't sweat it forever.'

And so we now have the final squad – injuries permitting – to face Argentina in GB's opening Pool A match on July 30th.

There were notable omissions - some enforced, some tougher to make. They include the unfortunate Simon Mantell, capped 53 times for Great Britain, but who broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot against India in a warm-up match last month.

'His selection was not even a discussion point,' said Lee. 'He would have been in the team if he could walk, but he's had a pin in his foot and is on a gravity runner at the moment – 32 days from the game. He is so driven and determined but even he would have struggled to hide that injury.'

Simon's brother Richard, who has 164 international appearances and 68 goals for England and GB, and utility man Richard Alexander, veteran of 208 caps, also miss out after featuring in the 27-man provisional squad. 

'I've been in the job for nine years, so have been in the selection process for a few major tournaments. The emotional challenge is much easier when you've been through it a few times,' Lee added.


Missing out: Brothers Simon and Richard Mantell

'I've been fatherly towards all the players and I like all the guys who aren't here. I've seen them all grow as men and I'm very proud that when the players found have found out over the last six weeks they've come to be and said they understood it was a difficult decision.

'Just as impressively, they've then come back a few days later and asked what to do next after the Olympics. There's been a real togetherness.'

The squad is a blend of youth and experience. While seven will be making their Olympics debut, 12 have experience of winning gold for England in the 2009 European Championships.

Many also took part in the 2010 Champions Trophy when England were runners-up, so big tournament experience isn't a problem.

The captain is 28-year-old Yorkshireman Barry Middleton, who will be aiming to reach a century of GB caps by the end of the group stages. As expected of the team's leader, he exuded confidence that they could make an impact at the Games.

He said: 'These four years [since the Beijing Games] have been quite different because we qualified as the host nation. It's been a longer process and a more centralized programme, but it's meant we've had more time together and more freedom to build the group. 

'We used to go to tournaments not believing we could do anything. But in recent years we've grown into a strong group who think we can win.' 

Others were more restrained in their expectations, or at least less inclined to get carried away. Nicholas Caitlin, the 23-year-old Reading midfield player, said: 'I don't think we expect to breeze through by any stretch of the imagination.

'The Pool is incredibly difficult, the strength in depth of the men's game is incredible at the moment and we hope to make it through to the semi-finals.

'If we play to our full potential, it's certainly not out of our grasp to have a crack at the gold medal.'

England, from which the squad are exclusively drawn, are currently ranked fourth in the world. First opponents Argentina lie ninth, while other group opponents South Most ominously, world number one side Australia complete the group.

But no one will faze Jonty Clarke, preparing for his third Olympics after helping Team GB to a ninth place finish in Athens and fifth in Beijing.

His concern was mainly about legacy, both for this crop of players and for the sport as a whole. He wants nothing more than to emulate the gold medal winning side of 1988.

'Hopefully we can do something special at this Olympics and there will be another hockey moment people remember and another hockey name people remember other than Sean Curley,' he said. 

'I was thinking the other day - a lot of this team have come through together and played at Junior World Cup back in 2001 - eight guys in the 27 who came through that period and have carried on.

'It's quite unique there's that many people of a similar age. I certainly started playing around the time of the 1988 when we won gold. You wonder if it's a coincidence that we started playing after seeing a gold medal.

'It'd be a shame if we had to wait that long again to have a strong side. I'm not saying we're going to win gold, but if we can get more kids playing that would be a great thing.' 

GB SQUAD

(age, home town, club):

Nicholas [Nick] Catlin (23; Marlow, Bucks; Reading);
Jonathan [Jonty] Clarke (31; Southend-On-Sea, Essex; Reading);
Matthew [Matt] Daly (28; Surbiton, Greater London; Surbiton);
James Fair (31; Chester, Cheshire; Cannock);
Daniel [Dan] Fox (29; Godalming, Surrey; Hampstead & Westminster); Ben Hawes (31; Lewes, East Sussex; Wimbledon);
Ashley Jackson (24; Tunbridge Wells, Kent; East Grinstead);
Glenn Kirkham (29; Chelmsford; East Grinstead);
Iain Lewers (28; Belfast, Northern Ireland; East Grinstead);
Iain Mackay (27; Braintree, Essex; Reading);
Harry Martin (19; Ipswich, Suffolk; Old Loughtonians);
Barry Middleton (28; Doncaster, South Yorkshire; East Grinstead); Robert [Rob] Moore (31; Winchester, Hampshire; Surbiton); Richard Smith (24; Portsmouth, Hampshire; Loughborough Students);
James Tindall (29; Virginia Water, Surrey; Surbiton);
Alastair Wilson (28; Sheffield, South Yorkshire; Beeston)

Daily Mail



Sleep therapist aims to turn Olympic dreams into reality

By Kris Shannon


In an age when scientists, nutritionists and psychologists are commonplace in sport, the New Zealand women's hockey side have turned to another peculiar profession to aid their Olympic dream.

As part of their preparation for London, the Black Sticks hired a sleep therapist to tell them when to sleep, for how long and what time to set the alarm.

It may look like a case of micro-management taken to bizarre new levels, but the team's Olympic programme, featuring two 8.30am game times, has rendered the new employee a necessity.

Under the direction of the therapist, the Black Sticks are simulating their schedule in London - waking at 5.30am and hitting the turf near dawn before settling in for a siesta after lunch.

"Even though the girls don't like it, they're going to have to become morning people pretty quickly," New Zealand coach Mark Hager said. "I've never had this sort of thing in my playing career or even in my coaching career with the two Olympics I've been to. Not these sort of time-frames - we normally played in the evenings or in the afternoons.

"They're the cards we've been dealt with, we just have to get on with it and handle it."

It was very nearly worse. The Black Sticks were originally scheduled to play three games at breakfast time but a protest from Hager's former team provided some respite.

The Australian men's side were also handed three early games but clearly didn't share Hager's unperturbed attitude, successfully lobbying the International Hockey Federation for an amendment to the timetable.

That also caused a revision in the Black Sticks' draw, which is complicated further by a solitary 9.15pm kick-off.

It might seem as though the side were dealt a rough hand, and it certainly added to what was already a difficult task to reach the medal round, but Hager chose to see the bright side.

"We're looking at it as a positive for us versus a negative," he said. "We're going to be used to [morning starts] so hopefully it will work in our favour. And we'll be primetime TV back in New Zealand, so that's a plus."

Black Sticks striker Krystal Forgesson struggled to recall previously playing hockey at such an early hour, let alone keeping to such an irregular sleep cycle, so she was looking forward to the assistance of the newest member of staff.

"We've spoken to a sleep therapist, so we've had some information from them and they've pretty much planned when we should sleep and when we should nap and when we should wake up," she said. "We're going to try to follow that and see how it works for everyone."

Another aid will come in pill form, with melatonin - a medicine used to adjust the body's internal clock - taking its place in the players' gearbags alongside more traditional supplements like energy drinks and halftime oranges.

Sleeping pills were off the menu, though. "Otherwise it's too hard to get going again the next day," Forgesson said.

It's essential the Black Sticks feel no fatigue, considering they're competing with hockey heavyweights Argentina and Germany for a spot in the final four.

First up for the Black Sticks is the country of Hager's birth, a match he was relishing.

"We're the first game of the Olympic tournament. We play Aussie, which we're looking forward to. We've had some good contests with them so it should be an exciting first game for us straight up at 8.30am.

"Back here you will be enjoying the evening and we'll be up at 5.30am preparing for that game."

The New Zealand Herald



2012 Field Hockey Canada Senior National Championships kick off tomorrow night in Surrey



Canada’s top field hockey athletes will gather in Surrey, BC this weekend to compete in the 2012 Field Hockey Canada Senior National Championships.  The tournament will take place at Tamanawis Park, June 29th – July 3rd.

This year will feature five men’s teams, representing Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and the Canadian Men’s Junior National Team.  Six women’s teams will compete, including Alberta, four teams from British Columbia and the Canadian Women’s Junior National Team.  The Senior National Championship showcases Canada’s top field hockey talent, including many athletes on the Canadian Senior National Teams.

A total of 176 athletes will compete in 30 matches.  Click here for complete match schedule.  Click below to view each team's roster!

MEN WOMEN
ALBERTA ALBERTA
BC BLUE BC BLUE
BC WHITE BC U18 BLUE
MEN'S JR NAT'L TEAM BC U18 WHITE
ONTARIO BC U18 YELLOW
WOMEN'S JR NAT'L TEAM
2011 Final Standings
MEN WOMEN
GOLD BC Blue BC Blue
SILVER Ontario Women's Jr. National Team
BRONZE Men's Jr. National Team Ontario Red
4th BC White BC White
5th Alberta PEI
6th Alberta
7th BC U18 White
8th Ontario White
9th BC U18 Blue

Field Hockey Canada media release



Blue turf installation work begins at NHS

LAHORE - After the cancellation of the first installer’s contract, the work on the much-awaited blue turf has finally been started by the second bidder here at the National Hockey Stadium.

The Sports Board Punjab (SBP) cancelled the contract of Swallow Internationals which failed to complete the task on the given deadline of June 15, 2012. The second lowest bidder, TS Builders which were allocated the contract, has started the work on the world’s biggest hockey arena by cleaning the asphalt surface to make it ready for laying international standard shock pads on which the blue-coloured desso turf will be laid. The workers were seen busy in cleaning the surface besides marking the arena to ascertain the condition of the asphalt.

Chief Executive TS Builders Fazle Mateen Qureshi told media here on Thursday that they were happy to have the contract and they will endeavour to lay a state of the art turf which will meet all the international standards. “It is the world’s biggest hockey stadium and it is a big honour for us to install a blue synthetic turf on it and we will do our best to complete it in trend setting way in minimum time period,” he said.  He said he would fly to Holland to meet desso’s manufacturers to order the turf and the shock pads. “We will be aiming to execute the work as early as possible because the rainy season is fast approaching and it is not possible to work during rainy days.”

The Nation



Supporters’ packages offered for women’s Champions Challenge tournament

Sports Tours Ireland is offering packages for supporters who want to cheer on the SA women’s hockey team at the Champions Challenge tournament that takes place in Dublin from September 29 to October 7.

Sports Tours Ireland can provide the following:

Meet and greet at the Airport and transfers to your Hotel.
•    Excellent accommodation.
•    Coach transfers from your Hotel to the Irish Hockey Stadium.
•    Tickets for the Champions Challenge matches.
•    City and Historical Tours of Dublin.
•    Activities and sightseeing tours.

Please see website for more information. www.sportstoursireland.com

SA Hockey Association media release