Suffolk hockey star George Pinner targets Commonwealth Games gold in 2018

Ipswich hockey star George Pinner

Ipswich hockey star George Pinner - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Suffolk hockey star George Pinner is targeting gold on the Gold Coast in 2018.

Ipswich-born Pinner, 30, will be part of England’s Commonwealth Games team in Australia next year and, with those Games now just under a year away, the six foot four inch stopper is looking forward to grabbing what would be his first gold at a major games.

“The Commonwealths in Australia give us a realistic chance of gold,” Pinner, who started his career in hockey in Ipswich, said. “The likes of Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and South Africa will all be strong of course, but missing are the powerhouses of Germany and Holland, so we do have a really good chance of gold.

“There isn’t a great deal between the top sides for the medals and Great Britain is one of them.

“Just look at the Olympic final in Rio last year, it was Argentina v Belgium, I think it was seventh-ranked in the world against fifth. That’s how tough it can be at world level. Anyone can beat anyone.”

Though he won a bronze with England at Glasgow 2014, the Olympic disappointment in Rio last year still hurts for Pinner and his Great Britain men’s team-mates – while the British women won a glorious gold, the men were left to reflect on not even getting out of the pool stages.

“Rio was disappointing, of course, but aiming for gold in Australia is still realistic,” Pinner added.

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“We’ve been in and around the medals in plenty of tournaments over the last four years, apart from Rio, so we will go to Australia confident.”

Pinner, who plays his club hockey for Holcombe, in Kent, made his international tournament debut in 2011 at the Champions Trophy in Auckland where the team finished sixth, four years after his first international game against New Zealand.

Now a contracted GB player, he was reserve ‘keeper at London 2012, but stepped up and won goalkeeper of the tournament at the Champions Trophy in 2016 before heading off to Rio for his first Olympics as GB’s No.1.

However, that gold medal eludes him and his GB and England team-mates of recent years, including another former Ipswich player, Harry Martin.

“Although I’m now 30, being a goalkeeper means I still have plenty of legs and a lot to offer,” Pinner said. “I keep in good shape and I will only be 33 come the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”