Hockeyroos moves away from recent turbulence as different types of heat build up in Tokyo | Tokyo Olympics 2020
Inspired by their new coach, the Australians at Hockeyroos insist they overcame internal turmoil ahead of the Tokyo 2020 campaign to open this weekend.
Katrina Powell was installed just three months ago after former coach Paul Gaudoin resigned following a damning independent review, which revealed a “dysfunctional culture” amid allegations of bullying and abuse. ‘a toxic environment. A two-time Olympic gold medalist during the team’s golden age in the late 1990s, Powell hopes to bring the Hockeyroos back to the Olympic podium after a two-decade absence.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind,” the new coach said on Friday after a final training session, ahead of the Hockeyroos’ meeting with Spain on Sunday. âThe team culture is really fantastic right now – I found it to be a really engaged, enthusiastic and motivated team. We’re all here to be successful – that’s what can unite a group – and that’s certainly what has happened here.
Team veteran Edwina Bone insisted the internal turmoil was “100% history”. Bone was set to retire after the 2020 Olympics was postponed, but decided she couldn’t leave amid the team’s rebuilding efforts.
âA lot happened at the end of last year,â she said. âI felt we really needed to unite, to stay together, in order to make sure these Olympics were a success and we didn’t fall apart. The bond that I have with the girls is what made me want more of this group, to want to help this group to be successful at these Olympics.
Bone said recruiting Powell, the team’s first coach in nearly half a century, lifted the team. ” It was hard [during the turmoil], but at this point – with Triny [Powellâs nickname] at the head – we were able to come together as a group, âshe said. âThe first woman coach we have had in 40 or 50 years. She is truly an inspiration to our group – we see her as our leader and we just want to follow in her footsteps because she was a very successful hockey player herself.
Having overcome their internal challenges, the Hockeyroos will now face stiff competition in the Olympic tournament next week. The Perth-based national team having been unable to compete in the past year and a half – except for a series of games against New Zealand – they have arrived in Tokyo in unknown quantities.
“I think [the absence of competition] is fairly consistent throughout the pool, âsaid Powell. “The European countries just had the Euro, so I think they have a slight advantage, and we have Spain first, so we’ll have to be ready to go. But they haven’t had a lot of matches. neither, so it will be interesting to see how everyone presents themselves.
The other major challenge in Tokyo is the heat. While the Hockeyroos’ first game on Sunday is scheduled for mid-morning, it will already be approaching 30 Â° C and will be humid. After their Friday practice session, the team were seen eagerly consuming bright blue frozen slushies.
âThe heat will be a challenge,â said Powell. “But we are ready for this challenge.” The Hockeyroos spent their last week in Australia training in Darwin, to acclimatize before the Olympics. âWe trained a lot for the heat here – we prepared for it,â said Amy Lawton, the highly regarded 19-year-old Olympic debutant. “We did a few things in the heat chamber at home, learning how we can cool more efficiently during breaks.”
If the Hockeyroos qualify for the medal games, they will likely face the No.1-seeded Netherlands. “These are their Olympics to lose,” said Powell. âI’m sure they will come forward and play as we know they can. But no team is invincible either.
A clash between Australia and the Netherlands in the later stages of the tournament would see Powell face off against former teammate Alyson Annan, who was part of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Hockeyroos and now coaches the Dutch.
âWe were part of a successful group, and you don’t succeed over a long period of time if you’re not competitive,â said Powell. âWe’re both still competitive – we were in touch via Messenger when I first got the job – so I know the competitive juices are still there. It would be great to face Alyson in an Olympic competition.