Saturday, May 15, 2021

Great Britain Hockey forced to cancel women’s Malaysia tour

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Rod Gilmour
The Hockey Paper's Editor. First covered international hockey at the 2010 Commonwealth Games - no better than a full house watching India play England - and has reported for the Daily Telegraph and other major newspapers ever since. Co-founded THP in 2016.

Great Britain women have seen Tokyo plans disrupted after their tour to Malaysia was cancelled at the last moment.

GB women were due to fly out to Kuala Lumpur on Friday to acclimatise ahead of the Tokyo Games this summer. They were set to quarantine separately on arrival for up to seven days.

But a last minute decision was taken not to travel after changes to their match play opportunities were affected. However, the GB men’s squad were still able to fly out and left on Friday evening.

Ireland women were also due to fly out to Kuala Lumpur ahead of their first Olympic Games but their trip was also shelved on the eve of flying out of Dublin, leaving GB Hockey short of matches.

Ed Barney, GB Hockey’s performance director, said: “From the outset of Covid-19, we have talked as a programme about agility and flexibility being our greatest performance advantage in these uncertain times. The staff and players have been exceptional at sitting with, responding to and working with these unexpected circumstances as they arise over the past 12 months.

“Unfortunately, at late notice, our international competitors on the women’s side were unable to travel to Malaysia, and therefore it was an easy decision to put plan B into place in the UK for these coming weeks. We are incredibly fortunate to have a world class programme at an exceptional home base at Bisham Abbey. We’re looking forward to some international matches at Bisham in the coming weeks before we resume our home Pro League fixtures in May.”

GB women first started their heat and humidity training in summer 2019, with women’s teams playing limited games in Asia as opposed to men’s sides. The GB squad has also had the luxury of heat chamber testing at their Bisham HQ.

Ireland and GB were due to play four uncapped matches against each other at the Malaysia National Hockey Stadium, Bukit Jalil in KL, while the host country and Japan were also expected to be in attendance.

Ireland head coach Seán Dancer said: “We informed the squad early this morning, and everyone is disappointment that we will not be able to make this opportunity happen.

“At this point in our build up to Europeans and the Olympics, the health and wellbeing of our staff and players is paramount. Weighing up the potential performance benefit of heat and humidity versus the uncertainties we live with at this time globally, particularly with travel and quarantine periods, has been incredibly difficult.

“I am confident we can control our build up well in Ireland to put the team in the best position to compete this summer.”

Meanwhile Danny Kerry’s side will play fixtures against Malaysia and Japan. “These will be a great piece of preparation in the journey to Tokyo for the men and they will thrive off every opportunity (and any challenges) in the coming weeks,” added Barney.

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