Thursday, June 7, 2012

US women dream of Olympic gold

Kathleen O'Donnell and Lauren Crandall pose for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 13, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- When the players on the U.S. women’s field hockey team think about London, their minds are on winning a gold medal. After all, Team USA has never won a gold medal in field hockey in the Games and these women would like to rewrite history. And, no doubt, they have their minds set on the X’s and O’s of their top opponents.
    With Kate Middleton promoting their sport in London, Team USA players hope to generate extra publicity
   But when it comes to these Games, there is a special X factor: the potential presence of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
    With the Games being in London this summer and with Middleton being a former high school field hockey player (and captain) who just so happens to be an ambassador for the 2012 Olympic Games, U.S. players are hoping their sport will receive more than its usual share of publicity this summer.
    Middleton visited with Great Britain’s field hockey team last month and photos of the Duchess swinging a field hockey stick landed in places such as People magazine. When Middleton sports a certain designer’s dress, that style quickly becomes the latest fashion, so it’s only natural that field hockey players hope the Duchess’ touch will be golden in their sport, too.
    As U.S. field hockey coach Lee Bodimeade said, “You can’t buy this kind of publicity. Maybe we should get the Obama girls some sticks, too.”
    Middleton’s allegiance, obviously, will be with Great Britain, but her aura around the sport has won over Team USA players.
    “I’m so excited for these Games,” said Katie O’Donnell, a star forward for Team USA, who noted that Middleton even displayed good field hockey form. “Kate Middleton is so popular. I think people are going to watch.”
    “It’s huge for the sport,” added Katelyn Falgowski, a midfielder who made her Olympic debut in Beijing and is expected to be on the team again this summer in London. “Everyone follows her. I mean, who doesn’t? She’s the girl next door and she plays field hockey. That’s great.”
    Unfortunately for Team USA players, their potential brush with British royalty will have to wait just a bit longer. While Middleton was celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this week, the U.S. field hockey players were busy training and competing in the Women’s National Championship at the University of Maryland.

USFHA media release

Britain apologises to South Africa

All smiles: Kate Walsh of Great Britain (L) and Marsha Marescia of South Africa pose with the Investec London Cup Photo: ACTION IMAGES 

SOUTH Africa have received an official apology from Great Britain Hockey after the apartheid anthem Die Stem was mistakenly played prior to yesterday's match at the London Cup.
    In a letter to tournament organisers, Marissa Langeni, chief executive of the South African Hockey Association, said the country "watched with disbelief as our team stood through what clearly was a most embarrassing and uncomfortable experience".
    South Africa's women went on to beat the hosts 3-1 in their opening game and GB Hockey have moved swiftly to apologise for the administrative mistake.
   "Great Britain Hockey, the organiser of the Investec London Cup, offers a full and unreserved apology to the South African women's hockey team and their supporters for mistakenly playing the wrong national anthem before South Africa's match with Great Britain on Tuesday afternoon," chief executive Sally Munday said.
   "The error was made by a contractor responsible for sports presentation at the event.
   "Standard procedure would be to check anthems to be played with visiting teams in advance, however, on this occasion that did not happen and Great Britain Hockey accepts full responsibility.
   "Great Britain Hockey and its contractor appreciate the sensitive nature of this unfortunate mistake and we apologise unreservedly for the offence caused.
   "The correct anthem will be played before all of South Africa's remaining matches, beginning with the team's second fixture against Germany on Wednesday evening."
   Langeni said she felt the incident clouded what had been a great day for the team.
   "We are extremely disappointed that an administrative blunder has been the source of much embarrassment for our team and all South Africans," she said in a statement prior to the apology.
   "The anthem played caused our team much discomfort as they stood not knowing what to do with themselves.
    "This incident has robbed our team of what should have been a moment of pride."

   The Telegraph