Aussie hockey women want Olympic medal
Fifth in 2012, Australia's hockey women aim to challenge for medals in Rio
The country are world powerhouses of hockey, and consistently field teams that are considered title contenders in any tournament.
Australia's men and women's hockey teams will be one of a handful of gold medal candidates at this year's Olympics Games in Rio from Aug 5 to 21.
The Kookaburras bagged bronze at the 2012 Games in London but could well be the favourites for gold after lifting the World Cup in 2014.
The Hockeyroos were World Cup runners-up in 2014, and will be desperate to ensure they don't come up empty-handed once again on the Olympic stage this year - the women have failed to win a medal at the last two Games (2008, 2012).
They finished fifth in London four years ago, and Emily Smith believes that performance has helped the team become better today.
"It's such a driving factor now, knowing that we went there and we didn't perform," Smith told The New Paper yesterday.
"It really motivates you to push so that when you go again, you don't want to get the same feeling again and you want to be satisfied with the games that you've played."
Forward Smith, who made her Olympic debut at the 2012 London Games as a 20-year-old, added that the team had improved in terms of knowledge, tactics and fitness since then.
She is part of a 26-strong Hockeyroos squad (world No. 3) that will do battle with defending Olympic champions Holland (world No. 1) and Germany (world No. 8) in the first TPG International Tri-Series at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium next week.
The three big guns are using the series as a tune-up for the Rio Olympics.
Speaking ahead of a clinic session (above) with the TPG Academy Elite and Development squads at Sengkang yesterday, Smith said: "They're going to be tough matches but it's such a good learning curve for us."
Captain Madonna Blyth says the 2016 version of the Hockeyroos is very different from the side that finished out of the medals in London.
"I think it's a very different group and even the style that we play is different," she said.
"I think we focus a lot on a really aggressive style of hockey, playing a really high-tempo game, being fast. We've got a few players who are really quick and really fit.
"And on top of that, just having players who are technically skilled, it makes it more difficult for the opposition who's playing us than four or five years ago."
The 30-year-old already owns 316 caps - the highest number in the squad - and hopes she will make the cut for her third Olympics.
The team will be trimmed to a final 16 and Blyth feels that there is a good mix of young and experienced players to choose from.
"I think it's (the balance) really good right now," she said.
"I think you need to have a good team right now with experience and a couple of younger players, but you also want to look forward to the future and make Australian hockey as strong as possible, year in year out.
"At the moment, the younger players have just as much chance going into the Olympics as the older players and it creates really good competition within the squad."
TPG INTERNATIONAL TRI-SERIES 2016
- Venue: Sengkang Hockey Stadium
- Time: 7pm daily
- Free Entry
Jan 18 (Mon): Australia v Germany
Jan 19 (Tues): Germany v Holland
Jan 20 (Wed): Holland v Australia
Jan 21 (Thurs): Australia v Germany
Jan 22 (Fri): Germany v Holland
Jan 23 (Sat): Holland v Australia
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