Pinner: We don’t just want to qualify for Rio 2016, we want to make a statement
- Credit: ffu.nl/Frank Uijlenbroek
Great Britain hockey stars George Pinner and Harry Martin are ready to not only seal qualification for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio, but also make a real statement of intent.
The Ipswich duo have both become firmly-established at international level over the past three years, a number of senior players having made way for a new generation of talent following the disappointment of a fourth-place finish at London 2012.
Bobby Crutchley’s young guns have gone from strength-to-strength during this Olympic cycle and surprised many with their fourth-place finish at last year’s World Cup and bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.
Goalkeeper Pinner, 28, and midfielder Martin, 23, were both named in the squad for the World League Semis yesterday. A top four finish at the tournament, possibly even top five depending on various permutations, would guarantee an Olympic place.
If they were to fall short it would mean that the team, playing as England, would have to win the EuroHockey Championships, in London at the end of August, outright to be among the participants in Rio.
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Great Britain don’t want to just scrape through though, they want to show the world that they are gold medal contenders.
“We’ve got a big summer ahead,” said Pinner, Great Britain playing a warm-up game against Australia tomorrow ahead of the World League Semis starting in Belgium on June 21.
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“The goal is obviously to secure Olympic qualification, but we also want to show how far we’ve come as a group since 2012. It annoys me when people bring up that (9-2) semi-final loss against Holland at London 2012 because we’re not that side now.”
Pinner, who was recently promoted to the top-flight with ambitious big-spending outfit Holcombe and is closing in on 100 caps for GB and England, continued: “Last year we performed beyond expectations really and now we’ve got to continue that momentum and start winning major tournaments.
“There is certainly enough evidence, both in the way we are training and the results we have been getting, that makes me believe we can do that.
“We have to believe we can ultimately win gold at Rio.”