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News for 24 June 2021

All the news for Thursday 24 June 2021

Olympic Day marks one month to go until Tokyo 2020

Today, Wednesday 23 June, is a day of double excitement for everyone in the Olympic family, being both the annual Olympic Day celebration and exactly one month until the start of the delayed but eagerly anticipated Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

In just 30 days, as the Olympic flame lights up the cauldron in Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium, the Games of the XXXII Olympiad will officially begin. The hockey competition gets underway the following morning at the state-of-the-art Oi Hockey Stadium, with Japan’s men taking on current world number one Australia in the tournament opener at 0930 Japan Standard Time. It will be the first of six men’s matches that will take place on that day, with the Netherlands and India getting the women’s competition rolling in the evening. Make no mistake about it, hockey will be very much at the centre of the Olympic action, just as it has been for every Olympic Games since it became a permanent fixture at Antwerp 1928, some 93 years ago.

Olympic Day – which marks the formation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on this day in 1894 – aims to celebrate the joy of sport and remember the creation of the modern Olympic Movement by founder Pierre de Coubertin.

The first Olympic Day was celebrated on 23 June 1948 by nine National Olympic Committees hosting ceremonies in their respective countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela. Since then, the annual event has grown exponentially.  Since 1987, Olympic Day runs have taken place all over the world. But it has become so much more than just a sporting event. It has become an annual world-wide celebration of the Olympic movement and its values, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle. Based on the three pillars of ‘Move’, ‘Learn’ and ‘Discover’, on this day National Olympic Committees all over the world organise sporting events as well as cultural and educational activities for all, regardless of age, gender, social background or sporting ability.

Due to the Covid-19 global health pandemic – which forced the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 by one year – the 2020 Olympic Day was certainly different to previous editions. However, it was no less inspirational, as Olympians from all over the globe used their energy and positivity in an attempt to create the world’s largest 24-hour digital first Olympic work-out. It was a powerful statement that built on the wonderful efforts made by countless athletes – including hockey stars like Great Britain’s Sam Ward and Lidewij Welten of the Netherlands – who produced home fitness routines and tips for staying healthy in body and mind during lockdown.

Wishing everyone a Happy Olympic Day, IOC President Thomas Bach described this year’s occasion as being even more special than usual.

“On this Olympic Day, when the entire world has been facing the same struggles and fears because of the global coronavirus pandemic for far too long, the power of sport to bring hope and optimism takes on an even greater significance”, said Mr Bach. “When the athletes from all across the globe and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team finally come together for the postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on 23 of July, they will send a powerful message from Tokyo to the world: the powerful message of peace, solidarity and resilience.”   

With the gradual lifting of Covid-related restrictions, there has been more opportunity for national associations to get involved in Olympic Day celebrations this year. Among those celebrating are the Czech Republic, who is running a series of events for teenagers – 14 and 15 year olds – to take part in hockey and other sporting activities. One of the organising group, Carolina Paterson, said: “We are celebrating their determination and enthusiasm during online training and we are supporting their camaraderie, which continued throughout the Covid outbreak.”

Also celebrating Olympic Day is the Iran Hockey Federation. Dr Bahram Ghadimi, the President of the IHF reports that the national association is organising a series of matches across the country for men and women, with young aspiring umpires officiating the matches.

And in India, the celebrations will last for an entire week. Organiser Ahad Azim explains that the activities will include quizzes, art and craft activities and other competitions all based around the Olympics and hockey. There will also be a range of wellness activities that will take place online, reaching an even wider audience.

These are just a few examples of the creative ways in which the hockey community is coming together to celebrate the values and ideals of the Olympic Games.

“I am so glad that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad are finally here. The chance to celebrate the world’s finest athletes on the world’s greatest global sporting stage is a hugely positive thing for all of us. I want to extend my sincerest thanks to the organisers of Tokyo 2020 (TOCOG), the Japanese authorities and the IOC for their incredible efforts to make it possible. And I’d like to encourage all members of the global hockey community to join, celebrate and promote Olympic Day, while of course following all measures in place to protect everyone’s health”, said FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra.

The hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will take place from Saturday 24 July to Friday 6 August 2021. Both the men’s and women’s competitions feature 12 teams, split into two pools of six ahead of quarter-finals, semi-finals and medal matches. For more information about the hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, visit https://tokyo2020.org/en/sports/hockey/.


FIH site

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – Spotlight on Australia

In the latest of our Olympic Spotlight series, we focus on the men’s and women’s teams of Australia, two sides that will very much fancy their chances of achieving glory at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Jane Claxton and Aran Zalewski, both long time servants of the Australian national teams who will be in the heart of the action in Tokyo, tell us about how the preparations are going in their respective quests for gold. The interview was recorded in May, before the Australia’s Olympic squads were finalised.

Jane Claxton, Aran Zalewski, thank you so much for talking to us about the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.  With everything that has happened over the past 18 months and covid delaying the Games by one year, are you excited about the prospect of competing at Tokyo 2020? We’ll start with you, Jane. How is the mood in the Hockeyroos camp?  

Jane Claxton: “As you said, I guess it has been a year of contemplation and hope that it would go ahead, so to get confirmation earlier this year that we are actually going to an Olympic Games, fulfilling a lot of childhood dreams, I think the group by and large are just very excited.”

And you, Aran – how are Kookaburras feeling about the that it is getting so close.

Aran Zalewski: “I certainly echo Jane’s words. For us, this year has been a fair bit easier, as we’ve been able to narrow our focus towards Tokyo. Last year there was a lot more uncertainty about what we might be doing and how the schedule looked in terms of the amount of matches we might play in the build-up to the Olympics. That has still been difficult, being here in Australia, due to the amount of isolation we have and our strict boarder requirements. For us, to narrow our focus, and how close the Olympics are now, it certainly feels much more real for me and a lot of the guys.”

To represent your country at the Olympic Games, arguably the world’s biggest sporting stage, must mean a great deal both of you. Aran, I appreciate the results didn’t go the Kookaburras’ way at Rio 2016, but it still must have been an incredibly proud moment to step out for your first match at an Olympic competition. Not just for you, but also your family.

Aran Zalewski: “As hockey players, all we want to do is compete, play internationals and play at the highest level at the ultimate events like World Cups and the Commonwealth Games. But for us, the Olympic Games is the major event on our timeline as hockey players. That is where we want to be, performing at our best under the pressure that we get from family and friends, the media and so on. For us, we really enjoy going to the Olympic Games. I was lucky enough to go to one, and it was interesting circumstances for me as it didn’t go as well as we would have liked [6th place at Rio 2016]. So, we are looking forward to going to prove ourselves at an Olympics, because we have only won one [men’s] gold medal as a nation. For such a strong hockey nation that gets such strong results in other competitions, we’d like to amend that total of gold medals that we have.”

And Jane, you’ve already mentioned childhood dreams. Going to an Olympics really is that, isn’t it?

Jane Claxton: “Yes. I think that anyone who enters a sport, at any age or when you go into the junior or senior ranks, as Aran said that is the pinnacle of our sport. Not just attending an Olympic Games, but also doing extremely well at those Games. Coming from a sporting nation like Australia, the focus is medals, that is the expectation. I think the Olympic Games is the pinnacle for hockey, and that is the biggest accolade you can get in our sport. All of the girls in the team, especially for those who will go to their first Olympics, it is a pretty special period in the lead-up to our selection.”

It was a while back now but securing qualification for Tokyo was obviously a crucially important step. For you Jane, it was against Russia in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers, played at the Perth Hockey Stadium.

Jane Claxton: “It was an incredibly nerve-wracking experience. I know world ranking wise we are probably significantly higher than Russia, but I think it was more the unpredictable factor – we’d never play Russia before, and a lot of the girls probably didn’t even know that Russia played hockey. That was probably one of the games where I could explain to most of the girls how nerve-wracking it felt – that game was a replica of what the first game of an Olympic Games feels like. You go in with unknowns but good intentions, but when the whistle blows it is a bit chaotic to start with. That was a unique experience that we hadn’t gone through before. Once it was over, it was almost a sigh of relief, knowing that we had consolidated our qualification for the Olympics, and we could now go all guns blazing into our prep.”

And Aran, it was the Oceania Cup victory against neighbours New Zealand in Rockhampton. You dominated the first game, running out 4-0 winners, but a 2-2 draw in the second game gave the Black Sticks a glimmer of hope going into the final game.  You came out on top, winning 3-0 to seal that all important Olympic ticket. As captain, securing that Olympic berth must have been a source of great pride for you.

Aran Zalewski: “Yes, certainly. It’s always a relief when you win those games and secure your qualification. As Jane said, there is always a little bit of anxiety in the lead up, and you want to make sure you secure your position. Doing that in Rockhampton was great. We had a lot of ex-Kookaburras players up there watching us play, a lot of them Rockhampton born and bred players like Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Matt Gohdes. They were all playing in an exhibition game, so to have them there around the group for that week or ten days in Rockhampton while we qualified for the Olympic Games was good. It gave us a little bit of perspective, a look into our history. But like I said, there was a bit of relief and it was very rewarding at the time.”

Looking ahead to Tokyo now, where the focus will be all about getting out of the pool phase and into the quarter-finals. Aran, in Pool A you guys face Olympic champions Argentina, India, Spain, Oceania rivals New Zealand and hosts Japan, who you start your campaign against on 24 July. Any thoughts about that match against the Samurais, and the pool in particular?

Aran Zalewski: “Yes, our first game is against Japan and for sure we are really looking forward to that game. Similar to Russia [for the Hockeyroos], there is a bit of unpredictability about Japan. They are not a team we have played a lot against. Certainly, we know that, leading into Tokyo, they have done a lot of preparation and really ramped up their training and matches. They’ll certainly be someone who I would expect to maybe cause a few upsets or get a few goals where maybe you wouldn’t expect it. They are on our radar for the first game, and then we’ve got Argentina, who are coming off the back of some pretty good results over the last four to six years. New Zealand often prove a difficult rival for us, we’ve had some very tight results against them. That rivalry is very much alive and well. We’ve got some challenging games in our pool. I guess the best think about the format in international competition is quarter-finals. If it was eight years ago, or six years ago in a World Cup, it would just be a semi-final. For us to have an opportunity to make the quarter-finals, it’s much more realistic now, with four teams going through in your pool. We certainly want to make sure we are right up there, aiming to top our pool, which would give us a better opportunity to win those games later on in the tournament.”

And Jane, the Hockeyroos are in Pool B where you will meet against Argentina, New Zealand – another Oceania derby – China, hosts Japan and Spain, your first opponents on 25 July. You’ll be keen to hit the ground running, as will your Head Coach Katrina Powell, herself a double Olympic gold medallist with the Hockeyroos! Has she set you a target in the pool phase?

Jane Claxton: “I definitely think, by and large, we are such a competitive group that I would say top two or even top of our pool which, as Aran has said, will put us in good stead for the quarter-finals. That is our first target, being successful through those ‘round’ stages, and making sure we are putting in some good performances on the pitch so we can carry that on into the final series. Spain is another opponent we haven’t played too much against. They are quite flamboyant in the way that they play, like Argentina. It will be a game where I think a lot of nerves will be able to get played out. We’ll have a unique match-up with game styles, as they do have that kind of ‘run-and-gun’, flamboyant style of hockey. Also, some of their tactics when we played them last time took us by surprise, so I think it will be a pretty interesting first game.”  

If you get through that pool phase, the sky is the limit. Is there any process that the team will apply to the competition, or is it a case of taking it game by game and seeing where the journey takes you, as the old cliché states?

Jane Claxton: “I think that first game sets you in good stead for the rest of the tournament. If you can gain some good confidence from that first game; an early win with early goals on the board, that can be taken through to the next game. At an Olympic Games, learning from Rio, it is over in a blink of an eye. Suddenly you are in a quarter-final matching up against a quality team from the other pool, so you want to be in the moment as much as possible in each of those ‘round’ games to make sure you are getting the most out of them.

Aran, you have already mentioned that Rio 2016 didn’t quite go to plan and that you want to set the record straight in Tokyo. Have you set yourselves the target of that gold medal?

Aran Zalewski: “I mean, would you set yourselves anything less? You must strive to achieve the highest, and that has always been the goal of this group. So, for us, certainly, that is the target. Whether we reach it and achieve or not, that is another story. That is the exciting bit about sport – we get to go out to see if we can achieve our dream, and that is why it captivates so many people and audiences all around the world. If we can do that, we can inspire those who come after us as well.”

The hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will take place from Saturday 24 July to Friday 6 August 2021. Both the men’s and women’s competitions feature 12 teams, split into two pools of six ahead of quarter-finals, semi-finals and medal matches. For more information about the hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, visit https://tokyo2020.org/en/sports/hockey/.

Visit the Watch.Hockey App to view the full interview.


FIH site

Young ‘Bou Spotlight: Fin Boothroyd

West Vancouver roots strongly instilled in young Caribou looking to make an international impact

Fin Boothroyd was eight years old when he first started playing field hockey at West Vancouver FHC, a club that his grandfather Lawrence co-founded. His mother was heavily involved; his oldest sister played; his dad coached: it was only natural for him to join at a young age and flow through the junior club system as part of his athlete pathway.

After playing at the provincial level for a few years, Boothroyd was scouted by the Junior National Team where he went on to play at 2016 Junior Pan Am Games and Junior World Cup. Fast forward to 2019, Boothroyd made his first senior international appearance just weeks after his 20th birthday at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

With 23 caps now under his belt, he recalls the exact moment he learned of his appointment to the Senior Development Squad — the beginning of it all.

“I was copied into a few of the emails with the senior team staff and I just kind of brushed through a list on an email chain,” Boothroyd explained. “I wasn’t really thinking because it wasn’t [addressed to me], and I remember reading through and seeing a couple of my teammates from the Junior World Cup team on there and then scrolling down to Boothroyd.

“It’s funny because, for forever, I’ve been called ‘Fin’ but my legal name is John Boothroyd. So my name on the list was ‘John’ and I had to do a double take like, ‘holy smokes, that’s me.’”

After his first training session with the squad, Boothroyd would soon realize it as his ‘moment,’ knowing that others were seeing value in him as a player. Over the next three years, the lessons would also prove to be invaluable.

“The most immediate and obvious difference for me was the pace of play when you get up into the senior level,” he said. “The mistakes are amplified so it was pretty intimidating for the first few games until you get the chance to build your confidence and understand what to do and when.”

Fin Boothroyd celebrating his goals in a friendly against Belgium on 05.18.21 (Photos: Emma Van Mol)

Looking at Boothroyd’s career thus far, it’s hard to imagine that he had other plans in mind as a kid. In fact, he wanted to play professional ice hockey for the NHL until he saw firsthand how much he and his teammates enjoyed the sport. From there, he simply progressed faster at field hockey and realized it was his shot to play for Canada.

One of his most special moments was returning to his home-field at Rutledge and playing in the iconic 2019 Olympic Qualifiers, when Canada secured its Tokyo 2020 berth.

He said, “My grandpa started that club, and it’s a field I travelled to many times growing up playing in West Vancouver. Playing with my club team, provincial team, and then to have that opportunity in front of my friends and the community was a really wonderful moment. It wasn’t lost on me then, but I feel really privileged to have helped qualify Canada at home.”

“He was an Olympian, and then a double Olympian, and those are things that I really like to do with my life as well.”

When asked about his journey to the present, Boothroyd mentions Men’s National Team veteran Mark Pearson as somebody who has inspired him along the way. Pearson had coached his club team in the years prior and gave Boothroyd a clear vision of where his career could go.

“In my formative years for field hockey, I started to put myself in Mark’s shoes. He’s from Tsawwassen and grew up playing in the club systems in Delta and I could see his path. I could see myself at the start of the path that he took and what he was doing at that time. He was an Olympian, and then a double Olympian, and those are things that I really like to do with my life as well.”

Coming off last month’s Europe tour and heading into the summer, Boothroyd hopes to finish his degree at UBC before eyeing opportunities overseas. He was also recently named to the 18-person roster heading to Chile for the Junior Pan American Championship this August.

“After the Olympics, I have one semester of school left and then I really want to play somewhere in Europe and get professional club experience since I’ve heard really good things. I went to England last September before the season got shut down prematurely [due to COVID-19], so having another stab at it would be nice.

“Any athlete at a high level will tell you that what they love to do the most is perform, and a really valued perspective for me is having that realization that people appreciate the sport we play outside of just North America.”

Field Hockey Canada media release

India hockey skipper Manpreet Singh dreams of breakfast with Cristiano Ronaldo

Singh is an avid admirer of the Portuguese football legend

Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh closely follows Portuguese football team skipper Cristiano Ronaldo and in spite of a tough schedule, he tries to watch most of his games.

The Indian hockey team reports at 7 am for breakfast and once he would like to share the same table with Ronaldo.

"He’s been my idol. I have followed him for many years and admire his dedication. He is 36 but still driven and disciplined." he stated to Moneycontrol.com.

What does Manpreet Singh have for breakfast?

On the plate it is usually boiled eggs, cereal, and fruit. His favourite cheat meal is paratha.

What is Manpreet Singh's fitness schedule?

If the skipper is preparing for a tournament then he has to sweat it out in the gym. However, when he is at home he takes it easy. He goes to the gym at 10 and follows it up with a run in the fields.

How many hours does Manpreet Singh sleep?

Singh is a morning person and is usually up by 5:30-6. But he makes sure that he gets at least seven-eight hours of sleep.

"I like starting early. There may or may not always be a deadline for sleeping, but I have been playing for many years, so you know how much you should sleep and by what time you should sleep so that you are fresh for training the next day."

If a player is late to the breakfast table he is fined and the teammates go on to clap.

"Sometimes, it happens that you are watching a football match late and then you don’t hear the alarm. And you end up being late."

What is Manpreet Singh's morning routine?

After waking up Singh makes it a point to pray and then prefers to listen to kirtans from the Golden Temple.

He frequently travels across the world and his favourite morning destinations are mostly in Europe.

"I enjoy the peace and quiet of mornings in England, Germany and some other places in Europe. It feels relaxing to be out in the fresh air, listening to old songs."

Olympic Channel

2021 Australian Under 21 Championships postponed

Hockey Australia advises that next week’s 2021 Australian Under 21 Men’s and Women’s Hockey Championships have been postponed.

Due the evolving COVID situation in NSW and particularly Greater Sydney, the championships originally scheduled to be held from 30 June - 7 July in Moorebank will not go ahead as planned.

HA and the State and Territory Member Associations made the decision today after waiting to see the latest NSW government health advice and announcements from the other Australian states and territories.

“This is frustrating, especially for the teams and the players, but with the current alert around Greater Sydney and uncertainty with interstate border closures and restrictions, this was the most appropriate and correct decision to make,” said Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier.

“The safety of the players, coaches, officials and friends and family who were planning to attend the championships is our top priority, together the assuredness that the teams can arrive, compete and return to their home states and territories without the risk of having to quarantine.

“We look forward to being able to hold these championships in the not too distant future and thank  the Member Associations and everyone involved with the teams for their understanding.”

New dates and venue for the rescheduled Australian Under 21 Championships will be announced in due course.

Hockey Australia media release

Standard of women’s hockey witnesses a decline in Punjab

Only one girl from Punjab in Olympics-2021 squad

Members of the Surjit Hockey Academy celebrate World Olympic Day in Jalandhar. Tribune photo

Surjit Hockey Academy on Wednesday celebrated International Olympic Day here at Surjit Hockey Stadium, Burlton Park. The celebrations kicked off the International Olympic Day with a cake cut by players and the office-bearers of the academy.

Dronacharya Awardee and Olympian Rajinder Singh (Junior), who recently got appointed as the Chief Hockey Coach by the Punjab Government, congratulated all the players on this day. Expressing concern over the falling standard of women’s hockey in Punjab, he said the Department of Sports, Punjab, would soon take up hockey at the grass-root level in the state with full planning so that more Punjabi players can make their place in the Indian hockey team.

Harjot Kaur of Surjit Hockey Academy also read a paper on International Olympic Day on the occasion. Earlier, the players paid tributes to late Milkha Singh and his wife Nirmal Milkha Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, Surjit Hockey Society general secretary Iqbal Singh Sandhu said Punjab led the country in hockey but the selection of only one player Gurjit Kaur in Indian women team for Olympics-2021 is a testament to the sharp decline in the level of women’s hockey in Punjab. As many as nine players are in Olympic hockey squad from neighbouring state Haryana.

Sandhu said Government Senior (Girls) Secondary School, Nehru Garden, Jalandhar, had been running the country’s leading girls hockey training centre for almost 40 years now and Olympian and International players like Nisha Sharma, Harpreet Kaur, Ajinder Kaur, Rajni Sharma, Surjit Bajwa, Sharanjit Kaur and Rajbir Kaur are the products of this hockey centre.

Apart from producing Olympians, international and national athletes, Punjab had the honour of winning the highest number of national championships till 2016, but this excellent hockey centre got permanently closed in 2016.

Sandhu said a hockey academy for girls should be established in Jalandhar without any further delay. He also demanded that an experienced woman hockey coach should be appointed to impart hockey training who could better understand the difficulties of the women players.

The Tribune

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