Clarke: GB Hockey team can beat anyoneBy David Wright
July 20, 2012
Reading star Jonty Clarke believes the world is starting to sit up and take note of Team GB as he plots his route to the Olympic podium at London 2012.
Clarke was part of the side that travelled to Beijing ranked ninth in the world and no one’s tip for a medal – so a fifth-place finish surpassed most expectations.
Now older and wiser the 31-year-old has been at the forefront of Britain’s rapid rise to fourth in the world rankings in recent years and he believes the chances of a medal are now genuine.
The European Championship gold won by England in 2009 was the catalyst for the resurgence, and Clarke admits he and his teammates now fear no one.
“I think we can beat anyone on our day, and everything between now and the start of the Games is about making sure we give ourselves a better chance of winning,” said Clarke, who will be looking to make it into Jason Lee’s starting line-up in Britain’s first game against Japan on July 29.
“We’re ranked fourth in the world, I don’t think we got there by accident, the world rankings are measured over a four-year period so it’s clear we’ve been pretty consistent over that time.
“We’ve won the European Cup in 2009, which is a major tournament, and we’ve also had some final appearances in the Champions Trophy so I think on our day we can be there or thereabouts.
“Getting out of our group is going to be tough. I think for the first time in a long time the top 12 ranked nations in the world have all qualified for the Olympics so that means there are no easy games, so getting into the semi-finals will be a tough task.”
Clarke, whose father Dick is England’s most-capped indoor player, got a taste of what to expect in Britain’s five-day test event at the Olympic venue in May – where they claimed third spot behind champions Germany and Australia. The Riverbank Arena was only three-quarters full but the Reading forward insists a packed stadium could be the decisive factor in his hunt for a medal.
“I just can’t wait to get out there and play now, at the test event the noise was amazing, and that was only 12,000 people,” added Clarke, who scored in the 2-1 victory over Spain in GB’s final warm up game in Santander before the Olympics.
“The stadium is finished now, and there will be 4,000 more people in to make even more noise. We are ready for it but I still think there might be a bit of shock when we finally get to playing.”
Lloyds TSB, proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Get closer to the Games at www.lloydstsb.com/london2012
Reading HC are hoping to appoint a new ladies first-team coach within the next two or three weeks. They are looking for an “experienced, ambitious and visionary coach” to replace Simon Letchford, who has joined the Royal Wellington club in Belgium.
The closing date for applicants is next Monday and interviews could commence with a week.
Blues are planning to start pre-season training on August 7, but none of their Olympians will be involved at that time.