Monday, June 24, 2024

Olympics Hockey: Get your hard hat on, Argentina are in Tokyo to fight for gold 

If passion for country and hockey was an Olympic sport, Argentina would be top of the Tokyo Olympics medal table.

Fizzing with their usual national pride on Monday, the women’s side admirably carried the South American country’s hopes with a rousing 3-0 defeat of Germany to set up a semi-final with surprise contenders India.

Firmly aware they have a great chance at a first Olympic gold, ebullient coach Carlos Retegui preferred to keep it simple.

“I love hockey. More passion. My heart thinks hockey.”

London 2012 silver medallist Delfina Merino spoke of coach Retegui’s “crazy” antics but said ultimately it was what made Argentine hockey what it is. 

The men’s side – 2016 champions – lost on Sunday, so their fans know the ups and downs well. But when it works, it’s hard to beat.

“Oh my God, he’s so crazy,” Merino said of Retegui.

“But I think it’s also the power that he gives us in the important moments. He’s really passionate and he loves our country, and he always tries to transmit that for us.

“Sometimes he gets crazy because things don’t work but I think it’s his personality, and we know him and I think it’s good for us.”

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Before the knockout stages penalty corner expert Agustina Gorzelany – who can flick the ball 70 metres, one of the furthest in the world – told La Nacion of her pride in learning her father fought for Argentina in the 1980s Falklands conflict.

“He had the number three written on his helmet, and incredibly I have the same number on my shirt. When we discovered this coincidence we were all so emotional,” said the 25-year-old.

“It gives me enormous pride knowing my old man fought for Argentina, even more so now every time I put on the national jersey. Obviously it’s not the same, but it fills me with inspiration to always push on like a fighter.”

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