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Ockenden backed for record fifth Olympics

3 minute read

Star hockey veteran Eddie Ockenden will be aiming to snare his fourth Commonwealth Games gold medal when he competes at Birmingham.

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch is backing co-captain Eddie Ockenden to become the country's first hockey player to make it to five Olympic Games.

Ockenden will enter rare air at Birmingham 2022 after being named for his fourth Commonwealth Games.

The 35-year-old headlines an experienced 18-man Kookaburras squad that is keen to keep its golden run going.

The world No.1 Kookaburras have won every Commonwealth Games gold on offer since hockey was introduced in 1998.

Ockenden, who has notched a record 387 caps for the Kookaburras, becomes just the second player from Australia behind Mark Knowles to make it to four Commonwealth Games.

In terms of Olympics, only Ockenden, Knowles, Jamie Dwyer, and Hockeyroos great Rechelle Hawkes have made it to four Games.

The 2024 Paris Olympics are still two years away, but Ockenden is showing no signs of slowing down in his hunt for an elusive Olympic gold.

"At this stage, yeah (I can see him playing on), and he's keen to do that," Batch told AAP.

"He certainly has to maintain his form. We've got the Commonwealth Games in a matter of months, and then early next year we'll have the World Cup.

"The Olympics is only 18 months from the time we've finished the World Cup. It's not a long time.

"He has been very fit and conditioned over a long period of time, and injury free. So that's helped him with his selection and his current form."

Batch believes the COVID-enforced break that put international hockey on hold for an extended period has helped Ockenden's Olympic cause.

"Normally you would have such an intense period leading up to the Olympics, and then there's a big layoff after the Olympics where people tend to sit back," Batch said.

"But there hasn't been any time. So he had that refresh before Tokyo, he's ready to go again, and he's as motivated as ever."

Ten of the 18-man squad selected for Birmingham have won Commonwealth Games gold before.

Co-captain Aran Zalewski, Daniel Beale, Jake Whetton and goalkeeper Andrew Charter will be aiming for their third straight gold, while Matt Dawson, Flynn Ogilvie, Jake Harvie, Tom Wickham, and Jeremy Hayward were all part of the all-conquering 2018 Gold Coast outfit.

Eight players will be making their Commonwealth Games debuts, including star striker Blake Govers, who missed the 2018 Games after breaking his finger at training a week before the tournament.

"After getting injured just before the last Commonwealth Games it's a great feeling to know I will be heading over to Birmingham and experiencing everything that comes with it," said Govers, who has scored 104 goals in 117 internationals.

"Knowing the success the Kookaburras have had at the Commonwealth Games, you definitely have that pressure aspect there, so the boys are really keen to play at their best and win the gold again."

The Kookaburras have South Africa, New Zealand, Scotland and Pakistan in their pool as they chase a seventh straight Commonwealth Games gold medal.


Jacob Anderson, Daniel Beale, Josh Beltz, Tim Brand, Andrew Charter, Matthew Dawson, Johan Durst, Nathan Ephraums, Blake Govers, Jake Harvie, Jeremy Hayward, Tim Howard, Eddie Ockenden, Flynn Ogilvie, Josh Simmonds, Jake Whetton, Tom Wickham, Aran Zalewski.

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