Ipswich hockey star Harry Martin ready for Rio and Rotterdam after finishing economics degree

Ipswich hockey star Harry Martin. Photo: Simon Cooper

Ipswich hockey star Harry Martin. Photo: Simon Cooper - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Two of Great Britain’s star hockey players this summer’s Olympics hail from Ipswich – keeper George Pinner and Harry Martin. STUART WATSON spoke to the latter about Rio, Rotterdam and his economics degree.

Ipswich hockey international Harry Martin believes he is back at his best after finally completing his economics degree.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder made his senior Great Britain debut at the age of 17 and has clocked up close to 150 appearances for his country since then.

His star has perhaps not burned as brightly as some predicted though – granted, against very high standards – and that’s no surprise when you consider his gruelling schedule.

After delaying his further education to focus on the London 2012 Olympics, the former Ipswich School pupil started an economics degree at Nottingham University.

His club hockey has been at the nearby Beeston, but his regular England training camps have been two hours away at Bisham Abbey, High Wycombe, while international hockey tournaments have taken him to Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India and all across Europe.

“I managed to finish my degree in January and scraped a first,” says the modest Martin. “It’s been tough combining the studies with the hockey – I don’t think I fully appreciated just how tough at the time – but my parents gave up a lot for me to get a good education at Ipswich School and it was important to me to carry that on.

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“I’ve made some really good friends by going to uni, it’s been a great experience, but I have to admit that there have been times when I’ve got the balance wrong and maybe my performances suffered as a result. I haven’t always been able to be in the best shape I wanted to be in compared to team-mates who train full-time.

“I’ve always been in GB and England squads, the only tournament I missed was due to a foot injury, but some of my performances have not been to the standards I set myself.

“With the degree finished now though, I feel like I am getting back to my best and having a real impact again.”

The Great Britain hockey squad was one of the first to fly out to Rio. Their opening game is against Belgium on Saturday, with further group matches to come against New Zealand, Brazil, Australia and Spain. The top four teams from the two groups go through to the quarter-finals.

Britain hasn’t won an Olympic men’s hockey medal since 1988 and coach Bobby Crutchley made sweeping changes to the squad following the disappointing 9-2 semi-final thrashing by Holland in 2012.

“We’re fed up with being the nearly men now,” admits Martin, England having finished fourth at the last two EuroHockey Championships and last two World Cups, ending their medal drought with a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

“We’re ranked fourth in the world behind Australia, Holland and Germany, but we’re going there to win it. We’ve just beaten Holland 3-0 in a warm-up tournament and believe we can beat anyone.”

Martin will get back from Rio on Friday, August 22 and then officially joins Dutch club Rotterdam the following Saturday after agreeing the move last month.

“My house-mate played for Rotterdam earlier this year and they asked him if he knew of any other England players that would be interested in coming over. I went out there for a while and loved it,” he explains.

“We have a great centralised programme here in England which I can’t speak highly enough of, so that made it a tough decision, but it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

“Hockey is so much bigger in Holland. You see kids playing in the streets which you just don’t get here. It’s the best league in the world and lots of internationals are heading there after Rio.

“Rotterdam is a huge club. They get crowds of four to five thousand every week, which doesn’t sound much in football terms, but in hockey terms its good. Here we get around 200 for matches if we’re lucky.

“I just think it will be good for me to experience a different culture too.”

With it difficult to make a full-time living out of professional hockey, what does Martin see himself doing with his economics degree?

“I get that question from mum most weeks!” he laughs. “A lot of the people on my course have gone into finance and that’s a route I’m interested in going down.

“The time to get work experience is in the summer though and my summers are filled with hockey at the moment. I’ll concentrate on playing for the next year and then see what happens.

“I will have to get out into the working world, but I’m sure sitting in an office from nine to five will be a bit of a culture shock.”

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