Jamie Dwyer has been named the FIH Player of the Year five times, firstly in 2004 and again 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011. He also has a full complement of gold medals – winning Olympic gold in 2004 and the World Cup in 2010, along with a host of Champions Trophy gold medals and Commonwealth titles – but today's final will be extra special for the 35-year-old because among the 15,000 spectators will be two very special fans – his young son Julian and wife Leoni. "It means the world to me that my family are here to watch me play," said Dwyer.
Jamie himself played lots of sports during his childhood, excelling in both hockey and cricket. By the age of 15 he had to make a choice. He was offered a cricket scholarship which would have meant a move to Brisbane from his home in Queensland. And while he loved cricket, it was the Olympics that the young Dwyer dreamt of – an opportunity cricket could never have offered. Besides that he liked the game of hockey better because of the speed and energy involved.
After Jamie finished school at 17 he moved down to Brisbane to pursue his Olympic dream. He made the Queensland Blades hockey team and from there was selected into the Hockey AIS (Australian Institute of Sports) in Perth in 1999. He was selected for the national team in 2001, and has worn the number one jersey ever since.
In 2004 FIH put its official seal on Dwyer’s skill and bullish style of play, voting him Player of the Year. This was the first of five Player of the Year titles, he won the prestigious prize again in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 cementing his status as Australia’s best ever hockey product.
In a country that reveres its sports stars, Dwyer has largely remained under the radar. In fact, it is on the world stage, rather than in his home country that Jamie receives most recognition. It is not unusual for him to be stopped in the street in the Netherlands and asked for his autograph, and it is a similar situation in Spain and India - where Jamie starred in the Hockey India League, playing for the Punjab Warriors.
Jamie has learned a lot from playing overseas in the Netherlands, Spain and India. Over time he has learned to adapt to the different styles of hockey that are played throughout the world. The way the Dutch play is different to the Australians, and the Spanish play differently again. The willingness to adapt and learn has been integral to Jamie's success in the game, although the striker is the first to admit that adapting to different styles of play has not always been easy.
In a career spanning 13 years there have been many highlights. In 2004 Jamie’s childhood dream finally came true when he scored the winning goal in the gold medal match, securing the Kookaburras first ever Olympic Gold medal in men's hockey, beating the Netherlands in the final. In 2010 Dwyer completed his medal cabinet by winning the World Cup in India. But no matter what medals and glory have preceded today, winning gold in front of his family and on coach Ric Charlesworth's final World Cup appearance will probably top every previous moment of sporting glory the Australian has enjoyed.
At 35, Jamie is one of the old guard in the Kookaburra team, but with all the Australian side there is a buzz, energy and momentum that has fizzed through all their performances. Another veteran of the 2010 World Cup, Eddie Ockenden summed up the team's attitude: "This means everything to us," midfielder Eddie Ockenden, "It's why we train so much and work so hard together. To get the chance to win another World Cup. Finals don't come around that often. You're lucky if you can go to one. You're super lucky if you can get to another.
And for young Julian, if Dad gets to lift the Hockey World Cup in The Hague this afternoon, it will be a memory that will stay with him forever.
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