More aggressive style for women's hockey team


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 31: Australian Olympic Team hockey player Madonna Blyth talks while attending a press conference on July 31, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

HOCKEY: After three consecutive fifth-place finishes, the Australian women’s hockey team is determined that its youthful team and a more aggressive approach will give them the consistency that has been missing from their most recent Olympic campaigns.

Australia’s women last stood on the podium on home turf at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney but failed to reach the semi-finals at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

“I think what’s happened for our group over a number of years, particularly since London, has enabled us to be in the position we are now,” said Madonna Blyth, the captain of the Australian women.

“In London, we played quite well but we probably didn’t have the depth that we have now. We’ve developed a squad that hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last two or three years, that’s had success in big tournaments.

“Before that, we probably lacked the ability to play well in big matches and now over the last few years we’ve been involved in a lot of finals, we’ve won a World Cup silver and Commonwealth Games gold.”

Contributing to that success has been a new, unrelenting style of hockey designed to stifle oppositions. 

“The depth in our squad has allowed us to build a certain style of play that will allow us to win day in, day out at big tournaments. We’re feeling really confident.

“We would love people to watch the way we play and talk about the speed, the skilfulness of our girls but also the aggression with which we play; an unrelenting style of hockey that makes it very tough for the opposition to play the way they want to play.”

At 30 years-old, goalkeeper Rachael Lynch is one of the older members of the group but having missed out on selection to the Olympic Games in Beijing and London, the Victorian is one of 12 athletes making their Olympic debut in Rio.

“It’s [a] youthful but experienced [squad]. We’ve got a lot of experience internationally even although it’s not at the Olympics.

“We’re in a really good place.

“We’re looking really good as a side. We’re feeling good, we’ve got some great depth in our group; experience across the board, even though we’ve got the 12 debutants, and I think if we put things into place we’ve got a really good chance.”

The Australian Women’s Hockey Team begin their quest for a first Olympic medal in 16 years against Great Britain on Saturday in Rio (Sunday 9:30am AEST).

LAWRENCE WEST
olympics.com.au