The British Olympic Association has amed the 16 men’s and 16 women’s athletes who will be representing Team GB for hockey at the summer 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Kate Walsh will captain the women’s side with the men to name their captain at a later date.
The men’s squad is the same 16 players who were responsible for securing their place in Beijing at the qualifying tournament in Chile earlier this year and have, according to Head Coach Jason Lee “shown that they are able to perform excellently under pressure.”
12 of the selected players for the women’s squad were part of England’s team when they secured Olympic qualification on behalf of Great Britain by winning the bronze medal at the 2007 EuroHockey Nations Championships in Manchester last August. The additions to the squad include Charlotte Craddock, who at 17 years old will become the youngest ever athlete to represent Team GB for hockey at the Olympic Games, succeeding Russell Garcia who was 18.27 years-old when he played his first game at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Lisa Wooding and Bowdon Hightown’s Jo Ellis have also been brought into the squad along with Wales’s Sarah Thomas who plays her club hockey in The Netherlands. The squad’s early qualification has, according to Head Coach Danny Kerry, “allowed the group to have had the longest GB preparatory phase ever.” He continued “As such we have been considering the nature of the GB squad since 2006 and assessing in earnest since January 2007 and today’s final squad announcement follows an exhaustive process which has included measuring players against the best teams in the world in testing climatic conditions.”
Both squads will only be taking one goalkeeper to the Olympics with Alistair McGregor making the cut for the men’s squad and Beth Storry for the women’s.
Selection has been a tough task for both Head Coaches, with Lee commenting “Selection is always a difficult time, but it has been exceptionally difficult this time as all of the players competing for a position have put in exceptional effort during this phase, and I think they all deserve to go to the Olympics, but of course there is only a limited number who can.
“The group include a lot of players who can play across lines, such as Richard Alexander and Barry Middleton, which is useful in order to change tactics and cover injury within a game. There are a number who offer a threat at penalty corners, notably Richard Mantell, Ashley Jackson and Matt Daly, and a number have a good open play goal scoring record over the last four years, particularly James Tindall and Simon Mantell.
“The playing group have a limited Olympic experience with only three of them having appeared at an Olympics before, Barry Middleton, Ben Hawes and Rob Moore, but this group have repeatedly shown that they are able to cope with new and challenging environments, so I have no fear that they may wilt under the Olympic spot light.
“Now that selection has been completed, we will now take a few weeks to discuss who would be the most appropriate player to take the formal responsibility of captaining the group.'
Danny Kerry said of his squad “The squad itself has a good nucleus of experienced players, some of whom have already tasted Olympic competition in 2000. Equally the squad contains an element of youth which over the program has shown its effectiveness against top ranked international teams. We have a very athletic squad with high levels of physical conditioning and we have worked hard to know our game of hockey such that it is robust under the pressure of Olympic competition. We will very simply take each game as it comes at the Games, avoiding speculation as to final positioning and instead remaining focused on the immediate task in hand.”
There are only three former Olympians in the men’s squad and four in the women’s squad. Ben Hawes, Barry Middleton and Rob Moore were all part of the 2004 team which finished 9th at the Athens Olympics, whilst Mel Clewlow, Helen Richardson, Kate Walsh and Lucilla Wright were all present at the 2000 Sydney Olympics (GB women did not qualify in 2004) when the team finished in 8th place.
Craddock, who has overcome a stress fracture in her back sustained earlier this year to earn her place in the Olympic side, said “I’m still in shock about being selected, especially with the set back in February with my stress fracture in my back, but I owe a lot to Ashleigh Wallace and all the EIS staff at Bisham Abbey who have helped me with my rehab and I’m very excited to be involved in the squad!”
This will be the second Olympics for Ben Hawes and he commented: “After a long training and selection process I am delighted to be selected for what will be my second Olympics. Now selection is over with, our focus quickly has to change to team performance, we have developed a lot and tried some new things since the qualifier, and I believe we will be very competitive in Beijing. Out of 20 games this year we have only lost two and confidence is high in the team. We are also a very tight knit group with the core of the team being together since the junior world cup in 2001.”
Under recently announced IOC rules, there will also be two additional places given accreditation as travelling reserves in case of injury.
GB Men’s Squad:
Richard Alexander (Surbiton & England) Position: MID
Jon Bleby (Loughborough Students & England) Position: DEF
Jonty Clarke (Reading & England) Position: FOR
Matt Daly (Surbiton & England) Position: FOR
Stephen Dick (Inverleith & Scotland) Position: FOR
Ben Hawes (Surbiton & England) Position: DEF
Ashley Jackson (East Grinstead & England) Position: MID/FOR
Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead & England) Position: MID
Richard Mantell (Reading & England) Position: DEF
Simon Mantell (Reading & England) Position: FOR
Ben Marsden (Surbiton & England) Position: DEF
Alistair McGregor (Loughborough Students & Scotland) Position: GK
Barry Middleton (HGC & England) Position: FOR
Rob Moore (Surbiton & England) Position: FOR
James Tindall (Surbiton & England) Position: FOR
Alastair Wilson (Beeston & England) Position: FOR/DEF
Niall Stott (Kelburne & Scotland) Position: FOR/DEF
James Fair (Cannock & England) Position: GK
GB Women’s Squad:
Jennie Bimson (Leicester & England) Position: MID
Mel Clewlow (Canterbury & England) Position: DEF
Charlotte Craddock (Cannock & England) Position: DEF
Crista Cullen (Leicester & England) Position: DEF
Alex Danson (Slough & England) Position: FOR
Jo Ellis (Ipswich & England) Position: MID/FOR
Jo Ellis (Bowdon Hightown & England) Position: FOR
Anne Panter (Leicester & England) Position: DEF/MID
Helen Richardson (Leicester & England) Position: DEF
Chloe Rogers (Chelmsford & England) Position: MID/FOR
Beth Storry (SCHC & England) Position: GK
Sarah Thomas (Rotterdam & Wales) Position: MID/FOR
Rachel Walker (Olton & England) Position: MID
Kate Walsh (Slough & England) Position: DEF
Lisa Wooding (Chelmsford & England) Position: DEF/MID
Lucilla Wright (Olton & WW & England) Position: MID
Laura Bartlett (Milne Craig Western & Scotland) Position: MID
Katy Roberts (Chelmsford & England) Position: GK
Source: Great Britain Hockey ltd.
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