Dutch women gunning for Olympic treble
They're gunning for third straight Olympic gold in Rio
Naomi van As and Ellen Hoog are eyeing their third successive Olympic gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in August.
They were members of the Holland women's hockey team who won the last two Olympic golds as well as the World Cup in 2014.
"Of course, it's our biggest goal now. It's our dream to get that hat-trick," van As told The New Paper at the Mandarin Orchard Hotel yesterday after their gym training session.
"It's the Olympics; it's a very special tournament and everything has to be right and everyone has to be good."
The Dutch are in Singapore for the TPG International Tri-Series, in which they will play against world No. 8 Germany and No. 3 Australia, from Monday to next Saturday.
But coach Alyson Annan believes it is too early to speak of Olympic success.
"Do we have the ability to be successful in the Olympics? I think so, but we're a long way away from being successful at the Olympics," she said.
She also emphasised that while certain players may have played in previous editions, it will be a new team going to the Rio Games from Aug 5-21.
"It's a new team and it's a new challenge," said Annan.
"And with that new challenge, there are a lot of steps that need to be taken."
The team's composition is not the only thing that has changed since the London Olympics - there has also been a slew of coaches.
The latest change saw former Australian star Annan replace Sjoerd Marijne as the head coach last October.
Hoog admitted that there was pressure on the reigning champions.
"There's pressure from the outside, from the press and the people who always expect us to win because we've had such good results," Hoog said.
"They always think that we will win but they don't know how hard we train for it," van As added.
Hoog and van As, who were in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic squads, are used to the pressure.
Van As, who has been playing hockey since she was six, started having Olympic dreams when she was 12.
"I knew there was a national team but it wasn't my dream," she added.
"But when I was 19, I decided I was going for it.
"Am I going to get in national team, or study and have a student life?'
"And then I thought, I've got a talent and I want to make it big."
While Hoog has played hockey since she was seven, she became certain of her dreams only when she joined the Under-16 team.
"And of course then, I thought to myself, 'I want to become like all the girls playing in the national team'.
"But, before that, we didn't think about it. It's crazy," she said.
While they may already have achieved their goal twice, they are not going to be complacent as they target their hat-trick.
"The other teams are getting better and they want to beat us, so they're going to train harder and they're going to do other things," van As said.
"That's why we always want to get better."