BARRY Middleton insists his Team GB men’s hockey side can end 24-years of hurt for the country at London 2012.
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Barry The 28-year-old was fundamental in a fifth-place finish in Beijing four years ago, GB’s best result in an Olympics since winning gold in Seoul 1988.
Since then the Doncaster ace has witnessed dramatic improvements in the side, having been part of their rise from 11th in the world rankings in 2005, to their current position of fourth heading into the Games.
The East Grinstead star has already proved he is the right man to lead the troops after securing their first European Championship gold in 2009, and he is convinced they will have even more success this summer.
“I think we can medal. We have a belief and a confidence in the squad which is a nice feeling to have in the group,” said Middleton, who will lead the side against Argentina, South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and Spain at the Riverbank Arena.
“It would be nice to see Team GB win a medal in hockey again. It has been a long time and I think we’ve had a few Olympics where a medal hasn’t even looked like coming either.
“We’ve trained really hard. We believe that if we play to our ability we have a chance to make it to the semi-finals. Anything can happen from there, but first and foremost playing our way into the semi-finals is the aim.
“I think the crowd can play a big part. It’s so different for hockey, we don’t normally get the partisan crowd as it is in other countries, but heading into the Games we get the feeling that everyone will be behind us making so much noise and I think that can only help us to do better than we ever have before.”
With two Olympics already under his belt, Middleton is the most capped player in the squad, with more than 250 international appearances under his belt. He is also set to play his 100th match for Great Britain during the summer’s Games.
And Middleton believes his centenary could really be one to celebrate with years of training and hard work meaning the side is more prepared than ever.
“It’s been tough to get in this squad, but it’s been the best set-up we’ve ever had,” he said.
“We used to come together six months before and try and qualify and it wasn’t a great way to do it.”
“This longer process has been brilliant for us as a squad, because it’s got everyone in better shape before the Games. These are the sort of games you want to play in.
“We’ve been training every day so you don’t really see it go by and all of a sudden the Olympic Games are around the corner. It’s a bit scary when you think about it.”
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* GB men’s hockey team will face Argetina at 7pm tonight, Monday, July 30, 2021.