09:00AM, Thursday 14 January 2021
Great Britain’s Shona McCallin (right) with Maidenhead Women’s skipper Eddie Westacott.
Only time will tell if this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo are adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but GB hockey player Shona McCallin believes it will go ahead in some capacity and is hopeful the women’s squad can once again compete for medals and Olympic glory.
It’s been more than four years since GB women’s hockey team beat the Netherlands in a thrilling final to claim gold and, while the youthful squad looks much different from the team which Maidonian Kate Richardson-Walsh led to success in Rio, McCallin believes the squad will fly out to Japan with medal hopes once again.
It’s been a frustrating year for GB’s hockey squads, with the pandemic disrupting the team’s training plans and competitions.
However, Maidenhead Hockey Club coach McCallin believes Team GB will be putting several plans in place to navigate the next six months in the run up to the games, and – even if those plans are thwarted by the virus – she says there are bigger things at stake right now.
She said: “Yes, in many ways it’s been a disappointment because last year was meant to be the year of the Olympics and various other tournaments, and no it’s not so bad because they’re still going to happen, only a year later. In a strange way it makes it easier that everyone is struggling now and missing out on things, it’s not just the athletics world that’s been affected. Every person in the world has been affected by this.
“As a group we’re in a good place and looking forward to Tokyo. There are good noises coming out of Japan the games will take place in some capacity. But in what capacity we’re unsure of just now. Time will tell with that, and how it goes with the vaccinations.”
After playing international matches in Australia and New Zealand last February the country was thrown into lockdown from March onwards and training was initially suspended.
However, due to their elite status the GB men’s and women’s teams have been able to receive coaching, training and travel for competitions in recent months, and this is due to continue into the early months of 2021 despite another lockdown.
“Mentally we’re all pretty good,” she said. “We’ve been good at keeping in contact with each other and making sure everyone is alright.
“Physically everyone has been doing the work but we’ll just have to see how we get on, no one really knows that yet though. The plan is obviously to play some matches and to be abroad in the next two months, but those decisions are out of our control. And if we’re unable to go away because of the pandemic, you know that because of the planning that takes place, there will be a plan B, and a plan C and a plan D, so I think we should be ok. Time will tell, we’re waiting just like everyone else.”
On GB’s chances of emulating the women’s success in Rio, McCallin added: “It’s a totally new group that’s been on a massive journey,” she said. “We’ve had three different coaches since the last Olympics. There are new players. Before the pandemic hit in February we were in pretty good form and were bonding with the new coaches, we were finding a good way of playing and were competing with the best. And when the side went out to Belgium and Holland, they picked up some good results against some good teams.
“It has been very stop start, but people are doing everything they can to stay fit so that when we do come together again, we’re in a good place.”
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