[img_assist|nid=1576|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=86|height=100]USA coach Lee Bodimeade says having seven Beijing Olympians in his hockey squad will stand them in good stead in an Olympic campaign where only a medal will be regarded as any kind of ‘success’.
The hockey silver medallist for Australia in 1992 said the profile of hockey in the States had been given a major boost by Olympic qualification gained through winning the Pan American title for the first time.
“It’s had a tremendous effect, the profile of getting to Beijing reignited the interest in the sport at the international level, and the success at the Pan Ams (2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico). I’ve seen a notable shift of the acceptance of the national programme and the willingness of the college programmes and the athletes to be involved. We’re now looking at capitalising on that.
“To go into Beijing and not have played since 1996 (Atlanta Olympic Games), we had no experience within the group outside of the coaching staff and that was a hard piece of information to transfer into the athletes; just what the Olympics is about.”
“Now we’ve got seven senior players returning (to the Olympic Games) and just being able to sit down and talk about what to expect, the enormity of it, has given us a much greater perspective of what to expect (at London 2012).”
The 42-year-old who has headed the US women’s programme since 2005 continued: “Success is getting on the podium for us. A medal is what we would determine a successful Games.
“We’re fully realistic of the enormity of that task, but we’ve had some good performances leading into these Games, we’ve got our best team here and that’s going to put us in the best position to get that result.”
He said that defeating Argentina in the Pan Am Games final (4-2, in October) had given the team confidence they could execute under pressure.
“We think it was quite a pivotal moment for where we are. It was an easy proposition for us. Against, at that time, the No.1 team in the world, we had to put in a performance in one game that would get us that result. To prepare that way and then execute the plan brought a lot of confidence to the group.
“We’re building on the confidence we were able to generate from knocking over Argentina, knowing that they were at full strength and it was a title that was up for grabs. It was a huge moment and one which we enjoyed.
“You feel very confident when you prepare a team to achieve a goal and they are successful. It brings confidence to the way that we’re handling the players and their ability to follow the plan. It is a tremendous rivalry we have with Argentina, one that over the last couple of years has been built on respect. It was fulfilling at that moment.”