Great Britain’s men’s hockey side are willing to risk all to win Olympic Games gold. Four years ago, making sure it didn’t all go wrong was ingrained in the team, but this is now their moment and they will bring high-risk high-return hockey to the Riverbank Arena when the tournament opens on Sunday.
Coach Jason Lee had long recognised that GB and England needed a more attacking mentality to mix it with the world’s top sides, such as Australia. And the tactics that might make sure you didn’t lose a a game had to be jettisoned for a higher risk approach
Lee, veteran of two Olympic Games as a player and approaching his third as a coach, said the squad had now moved on considerably from the Beijing Games four years ago.
“We are playing a style of hockey that can compete with and beat the best, Although there is quite a lot of risk inherent in that as well If we don’t do it well we can also lose games, whereas four years ago we were targeting our best performance without being too disastrous for the sport . This time we are risking it all to win the big prize,” Lee said.
“Generically it’s not the British way to go out there and be flamboyant and more attacking. We had a practice game a couple of days ago and there was a little bit of a fear of injury so people took a little step back and you could see what is a little more inherently us sometimes, which is to make sure it doesn’t all go too bad
“But we have drilled and dreamed of winning things. And we have talked about the types of hockey techniques and patterns that aren’t winning-mentality things. We know what can tend to derail us and our success will be dictated by how much we believe in, and try to deliver, a winning mentality. That [alone] won’t win us the tournament, but it will get us damn close.
“We are here to win. We don’t need seven wins in seven games to win it, probably six will do it. There are some key teams out there – probably Australia. We don’t necessarily need to beat them in the group but we will need to beat them at some point,” Lee said.
Midfielder and penalty corner specialist Ashley Jackson said GB’s pool game against Australia a week on Sunday would be one to watch. “I’ve been saying to people that is going to be one of the games of the tournament, if we don’t get to play them again, very entertaining.
Lee said: “: Australia make you stand up and wack them. You have to stand toe to toe if you want to beat them. It’s a Rocky II – not Rocky I – type of event where we stand toe to toe and slug it out.”