Faulkner rates GB men's hockey team
July 29, 2012 13:48 pm
Olympic gold medallist David Faulkner believes the current Britain men's hockey squad has more talent than the triumphant 1988 side he played for in Seoul.
The hosts begin their campaign against Argentina on Monday evening with the best chance of a winning the Olympics since Faulkner, Sean Kerly, Imran Sherwani and the rest did so 24 years ago.
Now GB's performance director, Faulkner is ideally placed to judge, and he said: "It is such a different game to be able to compare and contrast. The only comparison I can make is with the core skill, and the technical, tactical and physical elements and I would say the '88 lads couldn't compete with this group.
"I would say, in terms of depth of talent in this group, exceeds the '88 group. Our strength and conditioning, with respect, was sit-ups and press-ups in the bar at Bisham. Yes we trained hard but in terms of the detail of the conditioning, the movement analysis which is done now, and the science, psychology and nutrition they are so far ahead."
Coach Jason Lee's side have the added burden of home expectations whereas the 1988 champions knew little of the effect their exploits until they touched down back home.
Faulkner believes how they deal with that pressure will define whether they succeed or not.
"Jason has highlighted now it is about the mental toughness and the ability to embrace a home crowd," added the 48-year-old. "In '88 we went in seeded two and we didn't really deal with it very well early in the tournament.
"The difference in Seoul was we finished our game and had no idea what was happening back home. There was no internet, mobile phones or satellite television and it was not until the wheels hit the ground in England we knew.
"But what the '88 group had was great self-awareness, knew their strengths and played to them. That, for me, would be the one thing here. I look back on it and, as a group, we played our best hockey in the semi-final and the final after getting through tight games in the pool."
But while the pressure of home advantage may be a hindrance, it should also be a huge help. "We are ranked fourth at the moment and there is a stat which says teams in the top three nearly always medal at major championships," said Faulkner. "To turn fourth into that top three the home crowd will make a massive difference."
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