Great Britain men’s hockey team have started preparing for a quarter-final clash with India in the World League Final after topping their group and weightlifter Zoe Smith heads into 2016 brimming with confidence after a superb IWF World Championships. Here’s our review of the last 24 hours.
- Great Britain draw 3-3 with Belgium after being pegged back but assistant coach David Ralph says it’s full steam ahead for the quarter-final with India
- Smith is on target for a big 2016 after her clean and jerk of 124kg, and the combined weight with her snatch attempt at 221kg, broke British records in Houston.
- Tony Stephenson reflects on a chance to go toe-to-toe with Korea’s taekwondo team last month
- Olympic champion Peter Wilson believes Great Britain shooting is set to go from strength to strength
GREAT BRITAIN PREPARE FOR QUARTER-FINAL SHOWDOWN WITH INDIA
Goals from Phil Roper, Alastair Brogdon and Alan Forsyth helped Great Britain remain unbeaten at the World Hockey League Final - with India awaiting on Thursday.
Bobby Crutchley's side have had an impressive run so far but came up against a stubborn Belgian team who pegged the Brits back on three separate occasions to draw 3-3.
And though assistant coach David Ralph is expecting a hostile crowd when they take on the tournament hosts, he is satisfied with what he has seen from Great Britain so far.
“It’s pleasing to see us scoring goals," he said. "It’s something we work hard on in training so it’s nice to see it come to fruition in a tournament. We’d like to defend better however so that we’re not conceding quite as many.
“India are a tough side to play at any time. India in India is an even tougher prospect. The atmosphere and their fans make a big difference. It’ll be a great experience for some of our team and we’re relishing the prospect of playing against them.”
SMITH FULL OF CHEER HEADING INTO THE NEW YEAR
Zoe Smith says she has returned back home at the peak of her powers after the weightlifter broke two British records at the IWF World Championships in Houston.
The 2012 Olympian, who added Commonwealth Games gold to her collection last year, lifted 97kg in the snatch and then clean and jerked at 124kg, the combined total also improving upon the previous British record held by Michaela Breeze.
Those efforts were good enough for a ninth-place finish and Smith says the importance of the result cannot be underestimated.
“I’m thrilled to have achieved new British records in Houston, especially leading into such an important Olympic year,” she said.
“I have felt in great form for a while and with a top ten finish here I’m ending the year on a real high and head towards Rio full of confidence and optimism.”
STEPHENSON: GREAT BRITAIN ALL THE BETTER FOR KOREA LINK-UP
Tony Stephenson admits he relished the opportunity to spar with some of the best athletes on the Taekwondo circuit last month, as the British squad welcomed the team from Korea’s National Sport University.
Accompanied by former Great Britain coach, Professor Moon, the Korea team’s trip to Manchester has been a long-standing tradition at the national academy.
Both teams took full advantage of the chance to improve their sparring styles and practice their technique during an intense 10-day training camp, with the final instalment of the World Taekwondo Grand Prix just around the corner this weekend for the likes of Britain's Jade Jones, Lutalo Muhammad, Bianca Walkden and Damon Sansum.
And with the Great Britain side also moving into the new National Taekwondo Centre in Manchester, Greek Open medallist Stephenson believes Britain are doing everything they can to keep up with the world's best.
“It was good to work with different fighters to see what their styles are,” he said.
“A lot of people would agree when I say that Korea are leading in the world of taekwondo – so it was interesting to fight a modern player as that’s what we’re all aspiring to be.”
WILSON POSITIVE OVER FUTURE OF BRITISH SHOOTING
Great Britain shooting could take a big step forward after the launch of the ‘Talent Network’ initiative - and it has the backing of 2012 Olympic champion Peter Wilson.
British Shooting is looking for partner clubs in order to identify, recruit and develop Olympic shooters to become world class international athletes.
Wilson achieved his own dream with gold at London 2012 in the double trap, and he believes the new system will help stop other talented shooters falling through the gap at a young age.
“It’s wonderful that they are thinking about investing in finding anyone who might have the ability to become an Olympian,” he said.
“When I first started it was very difficult to become a shooter. If it wasn’t for my dad and Ian Coley, I wouldn’t have ever taken it up. It was a chance encounter with Ian that led to me pursuing a career in shooting.
“You can’t rely on chance encounters to produce medal winning athletes. There needs to be a more structured feeder system, which is exactly what British Shooting are building.”