Hard work paying dividends for Kerry and his team

Danny Kerry and Susie Townsend share a joke after the win over Spain

Great Britain continued their impeccable run at the Olympic Games by making it six of the best against Spain in the quarter finals. Waiting for them in the semi-finals will be New Zealand in what is a repeat of the bronze medal match at London 2012.

Great Britain’s first half performance in the quarter final simply blew Spain away. Three goals in the opening half an hour put them in a commanding position and although the Redsticks came back into the contest in the second half the damage was done. It was a display so impressive that Head Coach Danny Kerry, a man well known for the straightest of poker faces praised his charges in the post match reaction, before returning to the perfectionist who has made Great Britain one of the feared sides in this competition:

“It’s the quarter-finals of an Olympic Games, it’s a do or die match against a side who have a lot of variation in how they get the ball out at the back. The reality is in the first half we absolutely creamed them and then the second half it gets a bit wobbly. That’s high performance sport and it’s just whether you find a way through that.” he added “As much as I’d love to play an entire game the way we did in the first half the reality is sport doesn’t work like that and you have to find a way. I’m very proud. Our defence was strong when it needed to be and we were just superb in the first half.”

Kerry’s side have built momentum as the tournament has gone on; putting behind them the disappointment of a seemingly below par Hockey Champions Trophy just weeks ahead of Rio. From the outside looking in, fifth out of six did not bode well for the greatest show on earth in Brazil. In truth, Kerry was never worried:  

“I’ve been doing this job for 11 years and you don’t want to win Champions Trophies before Olympic Games. You want to identify little areas. We also had four players coming back from injury and they were very ring rusty.  We’ve changed that and worked hard on that. And it just creates that bit of impetus.” he adds “If you do well at a Champions Trophy you don’t perhaps work as you should. We worked hard, we had a good training block and it’s paying dividends.”

Having swept aside Spain in the quarter finals, Great Britain’s path to the gold medal match is blocked by New Zealand. The Blacksticks are on a real high after dumping their Oceania rivals Australia out in the last round. Kerry is all too aware of their strengths:

“New Zealand are a very fast side. They’ve got a lot of pace and a lot of good goalscorers and it will be a hell of a game.”

Great Britain’s record in the Olympics against the Kiwis is played 3 won 3, including of course that memorable bronze medal victory in London. There is no doubt, however that this one will be a very close battle with nothing taken for granted on either side.

Tune in tomorrow night at 9pm on BBC Sport to watch Great Britain take on New Zealand for a place in the Olympic Final.

GB vs NZ SF of OG