Ford making most of his chance
Wed, 08 Aug 2012 1:50a.m.
By Paul Mulvey
From the fringes and multiple disappointments, Russell Ford is on the verge of finally being part of something big.
In Australia's national hockey squad for six years and with over 100 matches for his country, Ford's invariably been the nearly man who's just missed out when it comes to the big tournaments.
And it looked like happening again when he missed the Kookaburras' squad for the London Olympics.
But he has pounced on his opportunity after being called up late to replace injured striker and close mate Des Abbott.
"It was tough, tough times," the 27-year-old said about again being left out of a major squad.
"It does go through your mind that it could have been it, that it could have been my last shot.
"I just had to stay focused and keep training. I'm here now.
"It's something I've wanted to do since I was a little kid. To be given the opportunity is awesome and I'm loving every minute of it so far."
A victim of Australia's depth in attacking strikers, Ford has revelled in the role he's inherited from Abbott, considered one of the world's best.
With four goals so far in the Games, including a spectacular long range shot in Tuesday's 7-0 romp over Pakistan, he's Australia's highest scorer from the field and has played a crucial role in their charge to Thursday's semi-final against Germany.
And he knows so well that after missing out so many times, this is an opportunity to be cherished.
"I've been on the other side of the fence when I've missed out and been at home watching," he said.
"I'm just lucky to be here this time and just trying to do my best."
He just missed selection for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, was next in line, but wasn't required, for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and as his teammates have gone on to win every major tournament in the last four years, he's only been there once.
He played in the silver medal winning 2006 World Cup and 2007 Champions Trophy campaigns, and his sole international success came at the 2010 Champions Trophy.
He's now two wins away from transforming from nearly man to Olympic gold medallist.
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