The New Zealand Olympic Committee has named the 32 men and women who will make up the New Zealand Olympic Hockey Team to Beijing 2008.

The massive disappointment of missing Athens due to injury can now be erased for influential captain and midfielder, Ryan Archibald. He will lead a strong and very experienced Men’s team to Beijing with half the squad having played more than 100 tests for the Black Sticks.

The Men have experience in all positions with defenders Blair Hopping and Dean Couzins on 183 and 155 tests respectively. Archibald will lead the midfield and now has an amazing 207 test caps, while on attack they have three players who have amassed more than 100 tests in Phil Burrows, David Kosoof and Gareth Brooks. This core group of players will be nicely complemented by rising stars such as Simon Child, Shea McAleese and Steven Edwards.

World Class drag flick exponent Hayden Shaw and his brother Brad Shaw who was the hero of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in February have also cemented their spots. The average age of the side is 26.5, while the average tests per player is a whopping 113.

The men have the enormous task of facing Germany, Spain and Korea in Pool Play – all teams who competed at last weeks Champions Trophy for the world’s top six teams. Their challenge now is to reach their peak in Beijing, something that will make them a genuine contender for a medal.  They finished their recent tour of Europe with solid wins over Canada and Belgium – both teams that are competing in Beijing.

The 16 Black Sticks Men’s players to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics are: 

David Kosoof, Blair Hopping Ben Collier, Steve Edwards, Ryan Archibald, Simon Child, Dean Couzins, Paul Woolford, James Nation, Gareth Brooks, Casey Henwood, Kyle Pontifex, Phillip Burrows, Shea McAleese, Bradley Shaw, Hayden Shaw.

Black Sticks Women’s coach Kevin Towns has confirmed an exciting blend of experienced campaigners and emerging young talent in his team of 16. The bolter in the team is 18 year old striker Gemma Flynn who has quickly risen from national age group ranks to join experienced strikers Jaimee Claxton, Niniwa Roberts and Krystal Forgesson in a forward line that will threaten the best team’s in the world.

The team has strength in the midfield where Emily Naylor, Kayla Sharland and 141 test veteran Caryn Paewai will feature, while influential captain Lizzy Igasan will lead a solid defensive outfit including Kate Saunders and Jo Galletly.

In goal Town’s has opted for Beth Jurgeleit and Anita Wawatai – Wawatai, who has been battling injury for some time has come back in fine form and played exceptionally well in the recent four nations tournament in China.

The Black Sticks are drawn in pool play against world heavy weights Argentina and Japan, while challenges will also come from Germany, USA and Great Britain.  Like the men, much will depend on the team’s ability to produce their best in Beijing. They are showing signs of dramatic improvement in recent weeks and can now be confident of their chances. A highlight of their recent series in China were two 3-0 wins over Spain and a satisfying 1-1 draw with the highly fancied Chinese.

The 16 Black Sticks Women’s players to compete at the 2008 Beijing Olympics are: 

Jaimee Claxton, Lizzy Igasan, Krystal Forgesson, Kim Noakes, Gemma Flynn, Kayla Sharland, Emily Naylor, Caryn Paewai, Tara Drysdale, Anita Wawatai, Beth Jurgeleit, Niniwa Roberts, Sheree Horvath, Kate Saunders, Stacey Carr, Jo Galletly.

Source: Hockey New Zealand