Sunday, June 23, 2024

Olympic Hockey: Sibling rivalry ends with Australia bragging rights

TOKYO — There have been some fierce Olympic rivalries down the years, but there was one closer to home on Wednesday as brothers Jeremy and Leon Hayward pitted against one another at Oi Hockey Stadium.

Forward Jeremy lined up for in-form Australia, perhaps the standout team so far at these Olympics, and facing him in goal for New Zealand was big brother Leon.

Goalkeeper Leon has previously played for the Kookaburras, but his allegiance now lies firmly with the Black Sticks, for whom he qualifies thanks to his mother, Ellie, with her Dunedin roots.

But it was little brother who came out with bragging rights, helping Australia to a 4-2 win, although Leon did make a string of fine saves, including one to deny his brother from a penalty corner in the third quarter.

“Could you imagine it? It’s ridiculous isn’t it?,” Leon said of the two playing each other at an Olympic Games.

“It’s a good feeling. It’s a strange feeling and I guess everyone’s really proud of what’s happened but unfortunately I didn’t win today so I’m not the happiest guy.”

“I don’t know who’s the favourite child at the moment,” brother Jeremy said.

“They (our parents) have got a win, they’ve also got a loss. They were hoping for a draw I guess. They’ll be proud either way seeing both their sons represent.”

Asked what he had learned from Leon, Jeremy said: “Growing up he taught me toughness, that’s for sure. He beat me up a fair bit. He taught me how to be tough and we love each other and I thank him for that as well.

“We never threw punches, we were just wrestling. He was always that bit stronger than me and I always had a target to reach. Always looking up to him, the bigger brother.”

Elsewhere on Thursday – check out our Olympic page for full coverage – in the women’s competition, Germany, Australia and Netherlands all secured quarterfinal berths.

And Germany’s Franzisca Hauke, whose brother Tobias is playing for the men, is bullish about her country’s chances of success after Die Danas beat Ireland 4-2.

“We are showing that we can beat everyone,” she said. “We are not on our highest level now and we already have three wins without our best performance. We can improve and then it’s hard for everyone to beat us.”

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