Beijing survivors savour hockey redemption
Tue, 07 Aug 2012 4:51p.m.
By Robert Lowe
The Black Sticks women's achievement of making the Olympic hockey semi-finals is particularly sweet for Kayla Sharland and three others in the squad.
Sharland, fellow co-captain Emily Naylor, Krystal Forgesson and Gemma Flynn were part of the disappointing campaign four years ago.
In Beijing, the Black Sticks finished bottom in the 12-nation tournament, losing every match.
This time around, making the last four - where they will met defending champions and world No.1 the Netherlands on Wednesday for a berth in the final - represents New Zealand women's hockey's best Olympic result.
Sharland, 26, says trying to erase the disappointment of Beijing was a major motivator for her, so getting to the medal rounds is "huge".
"I was so frustrated after the last one and so down that I was just like, `why am I playing', that kind of thing," she said.
"This is why - to get into these positions from hard work and wanting to achieve more. I wanted a successful campaign and so far we're going well."
Ranked sixth in the world, New Zealand were considered outsiders for a medal when the tournament began.
But Sharland, whose 174 caps make her the second most experienced player in the squad after double centurion Naylor, says there was belief within the group that they could get this far.
"I knew we could, but probably didn't want to portray it too much, because I thought we were going to do really well in Beijing as well," she said.
"But this group has grown so much over the last couple of years. We're doing it for each other. We're like a tight family."
While there might have been some ups and downs in results, she feels the Black Sticks' consistency has been a feature of their performances in London.
She knows they will have to lift their performance against the Dutch from what they produced against Germany on Monday in a 0-0 draw that sent them into the semi-finals.
That includes retaining possession better and not giving up cheap turnovers.
What won't change is the effort.
"We'll just continue to put the pressure on," she said.
"We'll chase chase chase, run run run. That's our philosophy and hopefully we can have another first with this group."
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7/08/2012 9:07:24 p.m.
another over rated team game which we dont seem win when we need to...we are really lucky to be still there
7/08/2012 8:15:47 p.m.
Fantastic achievement to get this far, best of luck with your next game against the dutch!
Go Black sticks you can do it! We are backing you all the way.
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