Keen Martin

Harry Martin in action for Great Britain

Harry Martin was just 13 years old when it was announced that London would be hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Seven years later and, as the youngest member of the Great Britain men’s hockey squad, he can’t wait to step out on to the pink and blue pitch.

You recently suffered a cheek injury, how’s it holding up now?Harry Martin injury
Fine. I went to see the surgeon and the bone has healed up. I was back in training pretty quickly, although I took it a bit easier the following week! I’ve got a scar on the other side as well but this was my first surgery – my first broken bone in fact. I actually went back on to the pitch after I had the cut seen to, it wasn’t until the next day when it was pretty swollen that it became clear something had happened!

There must be a temptation to wrap yourself in cotton wool pre-tournament?
It’s not really something you can do. As a squad we go into it as hard as we can in every training session and every match. I suppose injury is in the back of your mind but you don’t hold back.

You first appeared for GB at the age of 17. Was it strange coming into a squad of players that you had grown up watching?
It was really surreal, my first tournament in 2010. I was rooming with [captain] Barry Middleton. He presented me with a prize when I was 13 and then there he was rooming with me!

harry martinIt must have been quite odd at times, was it difficult to cope with at all?
It took me a while to realise that I was actually on the same team as them! I think it’s great for me because I have been able to learn so much from them, and I still do, every time we train I learn something new just from watching them.

Obviously there are some players with a fair bit more experience than you, are you quiet or do you speak up and voice your opinions?
I’m a little bit louder than I used to be but I still know my place.

At your age you must get a lot of advice. Is it hard to distinguish between useful advice and stuff that’s not really relevant?
It’s all good advice, really. Most of them have been there and done it. I just take what’s relevant to me, try and take it onboard and apply it to my game.

What were you doing when it was announced that the Olympics were coming to London?
I was 13 in 2005 so I was still quite young. At that stage I had no idea! I was excited about watching it, let alone competing in it. It wasn’t until I came into the Great Britain set-up two years ago that I began to consider the possibility that I might take part in our home Olympics. I was trying to not look too far around the corner but it’s coming up fast now.

How have you found the focus and preparation going into an Olympics?
Last year I was trying to balance hockey with school so this year has been a bit of a relief – just having one thing t o focus on. Being a full-time athlete is the best job in the world, you’re doing something that you love every day. It’s something that we would all do for free so it has been fantastic.

Do you think having home advantage creates additional pressure?
It doesn’t really. The experience of playing Olympic hockey in front of a home crowd for the first time will be unbelievable – if anything I would see home advantage as a boost.

Harry Martin 450

What do your friends make of you taking part in the Olympics and your hockey career so far?
Most of my friends are at university, which is quite a different lifestyle. They’re very cool about it. When I first came into the team they were all watching me at the Commonwealth Games and that was fun. They have been very supportive.

When you’re mid-way through a particularly gruelling fitness session do you ever feel that you’re missing out on something?
No, not at all. If you do find yourself dwelling on it then you just have to think about the fact that you have a chance of playing at the Olympics. I’m going to Nottingham next year to study Economics so I’ll get a chance to do all that as well.

As a player, what does the next year hold for you in terms of individual aims and aspirations?
I just want to keep improving and playing consistently at this level. Primarily I am looking to establish myself as a long-term, full-time fixture in the international team. Being a full-time athlete is the best job in the world, in my opinion, and doing something I love is what matters.

To see Harry in action, don't miss GB men's first match of the Olympics tonight against Argentina at 19.00. Click here for the full Olympic hockey schedule.