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We’re going to Rio to compete, not participate – Knowles

29 June 2016

HOCKEY: The hard work has only begun for 16 men’s hockey players today selected to take to the pitch at Rio, says triple Olympic captain Mark Knowles.

The men’s hockey section of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team features 10 returning Olympians and six eager debutants ready to fight together to claim top spot on the dais.

“When we go to the Olympic Games as the Australian men’s hockey team we want to win, we don’t want to get bronze, just make the semis or play off for fifth,” Knowles said.

 “I sent every player in the squad a message after the selection memo came out. The most important message I gave was the one I said to those selected, making the team isn’t enough.”

“I’m extremely proud. I’ve been selected for a fourth time and it’s something I never thought I’d have chance to do as Rockhampton country boy.”

Knowles, who became a father for the third time only three weeks ago, knows how special this selection is for the six debutants, reminiscing on his first Games, 12 years ago.

“I think about myself when I was a 20-year-old, in 2004 and how excited they must be. It’s a life-long dream coming true.”

Knowles will lead the side in Brazil and backed by an extremely powerful leadership group. The side will capitalize on the experience of Knowles and fellow triple Olympian Jamie Dwyer, as well as dual bronze medallists Eddie Ockenden and Fergus Kavanagh who will line up for their third Games.

Chris Ciriello, Simon Orchard, Glenn Turner, Matthew Swann, Matt Gohdes and Tim Deavin will all take to the pitch at their second Games, while Blake Govers, Daniel Beale, Jake Whetton, Matthew Dawson, Andrew Charter and Tristan White will don the Olympic uniform for the first time.

At 37 years old Dwyer will make history as Australia’s oldest hockey player at an Olympics.

But a fourth Olympic appearance seemed doubtful a couple of years ago, after he missed selection for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“After missing out on the Commonwealth Games in 2014 I was thinking about retiring and for a good couple of months wasn’t sure what I’d do,” Dwyer said. 

“I’m very happy that I decided to give it a crack. Even if hadn’t made it I was glad I’d given it everything. I feel like I’ve played well in the past 18 months and have performed my role for the team.

“One of the perks of playing hockey is that I’ve had the opportunity to play in a lot of great places but South America will be a new experience.”

For 22-year-old Matthew Dawson an Olympic debut, he’s inspired by his legendary teammates.

“I can remember getting up at 3am to watch the 2004 Olympic gold medal match with my family sitting in the lounge, that was the start of it,” he said.

The Central Coast native was hoping for Olympic selection after a strong performance at the recent Champions Trophy where the Aussies walked away with gold, but says he certainly wasn’t expecting it.

“Trying to crack into a group with Mark Knowles, Fergus Kavanagh, Chris Ciriello and Tim Deavin is hard.”

The team will head into Rio as the world number one ranked team in the world. The side recently claimed their 14th Champions Trophy in London and were the 2015 World League Champions.

When the competition begins on August 6 the Aussies will face trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in their preliminary rounds as well as Great Britain, Belgium, Spain and the hosts, Brazil.

The top four from each two pools will progress to the all-or-nothing quarter finals, with Rio 2016 being the first Olympic Games to feature the new format, all building to the gold medal match on August 18.

These 16 athletes take the overall 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 216 from 21 sports, with an expected final Team of around 410 athletes. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>

Ashleigh Knight

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