Australian over 35s gold medallist Angus Armstrong on why masters hockey is an experience of a lifetime
Being selected in the Australian side for the first 2018 over 35s World Cup was an ultimate dream, which led to a gold medal in Barcelona.
It was evident very early on that there were high expectations not only from the coach but within the playing group. No one wanted to let anyone else down, which drove me to be my fittest.
My home is a 6,500-acre wheat farm in Narrogin, Western Australia. To help improve my fitness I constructed a 12km mountain bike trail on the property, mainly with a shovel and crowbar. Better than going to the gym for weights!
Each morning I would run various distances around the track and each night ride the bike around the whole course. The only scary moment was one evening going over a blind jump. I landed on a snake that flicked up onto my back luckily biting the saddle and not me.
Attending the weekend training camp involved a three-hour drive to Perth, with an overnight stay before a very early six hour flight to Canberra.
Even though players were spread all over Australia, arriving at the training camp I felt like we all knew each other from all the emails, phone calls, Facebook posts and general banter. After the camp the hype and sense of being in the campaign as a group heightened.
Taking the extra week in Eindhoven, Holland prior to going to Barcelona was a real experience. With training twice daily at a ground walking distance from our accommodation was great. The breakfasts were superb!
At the end of the week playing against the Oranje-Rood team formed the perfect introduction to the pressures of European Hockey and what we could expect at the World Cup.
Reflecting back, we spent a lot of time communicating to the coach, manager, physio and each other. But, none of this was wasted and agreed with our team motto “we got the job done”.
Master’s hockey and the World Cup is simply the experience of a life-time.