Thursday, November 30, 2023

Hockey Pro League: China and Australia coaches seek Olympic highs

Two Olympic gold medal winners from the same team went up against each other as coaches as the FIH Pro League resumed duties on Friday.

The Hockeyroos earned a bonus point after a 1-1 draw against China in Sydney. In their first match since last year’s Commonwealth Games, the Hockeyroos prevailed in the shoot-out 3-1.

China coach Alyson Annan, who has former mentor Ric Charlesworth working with her, went up against team-mate from the 1996 and 2000 Olympics Katrina Powell, who is coaching Australia women. Powell got first blood in the Sydney mini tournament.

“It’s not between ‘Trinny’ and I as coaches. It’s between two teams that are very good,” Annan told AAP.

“We’re No.10 in the world. They’re No.3 in the world so we have to be realistic about that and I don’t think this is a battle between two (former) roommates from 20 years ago.

“It’s a battle between two teams that are growing and are learning and are playing some good hockey.

On working with Charlesworth, Annan said: “So sometimes we have some heavy discussions, which is a learning experience for me in itself, because I’ve never said no to Ric.

“But he’s a very knowledgeable man and someone I can learn from.”

Powell and Australia are back playing on home soil after a lengthy European trip abroad last summer, which took in bronze at the women’s World Cup, then Commonwealth final. Now the aim is to continue the medal run at Paris 2024.

Powell said: “Australians do expect that – that any sporting team in Australia is pushing for and aiming to achieve an Olympic gold medal.

“That’s certainly our aim. That also comes from the legacy of the Hockeyroos and the name of the brand.”

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