Richard Alexander shocked at Team GB hockey omission
Archant © 2009
Long-time Team GB hockey star Richard Alexander admitted he is shocked to miss out competing at his home – and final – Olympics.
The 30-year-old former Harleston Magpies star and pupil of Norwich’s Town Close House has been a Great Britain regular since earning his first cap in 2005, and had the summer planned around his defensive duties in the men’s hockey tournament at the London Games.
However, it was almost universal shock that greeted Alexander’s omission from the 16-strong squad announced by Team GB on Wednesday afternoon.
The ratified list can be amended until July 9 in case of injuries, while five-time Olympic head coach Jason Lee must also name two reserve players; that is expected to happen next week.
But even with those caveats, Alexander’s dream of competing at a home Olympics is expected to be over.
“It was a bit of a shock and that’s all I can say about it really,” said Alexander. “It’s always a tough one to gauge and in the end it’s come down to the coach’s opinion.
“It’s not like other sports where you get a qualifying time, win a heat or come top-three and you know where you stand. It’s the subjective opinion of the coach and he’s chosen to go a different route with different players.
“I’ve been involved since 2005 when I got my first cap and been to pretty much every major tournament and been a major part of the side since then, so I was hoping to make it to London – and now it’s a case of coming to terms with it.
“I’d been toying over the last few days over what I was going to do for the Olympics… I haven’t decided whether to stay in the country or just go abroad and try to ignore the whole situation.
“I would have loved to see some of the other events too, but it’s not like you can just go a buy tickets for them – so that one is a bit of a no-win situation as well.”
A competitor in Beijing four years ago, Alexander’s GB career includes European and Commonwealth bronze medals and a Champions Trophy silver.
But while his disappointment was clear, Alexander still wants the best for his old team-mates – whether he gets an Olympic reprieve or not.
“It’s a really tricky situation,” he added. “The guys who have been picked are still your best friends and you want them to do extremely well. I want the sport to do well and I think they have got a great opportunity to do very well at a home Olympics, which is incredible.
“At the same time you’ve got to stay fit and ready in case something bad does happen and injury occurs. As much as you want to just stop and get away from it all, you’ve got to carry on right until the last moment just in case. Hockey is such a volatile sport and injuries can be picked up very easily.
“You’ve just got to cling on to every last bit of hope you can. You don’t want any of your team-mates to get injured but you have to be ready in case that happens.”
The Surbiton player hopes offering his experience to the likes of the BBC will still give him an Olympic role to perform, while next year he plans to complete his high school teacher training.
But Alexander, known as Ratman, is also keeping his future GB options open: “This was definitely going to be my last Olympics – how much I will carry on after this I don’t know.
“Once I’ve become a qualified teacher I’ll have a look at whether I will be a part of the picture or if they will rebuild after this Olympics and start afresh again.
“I will sit down with whoever the coach is for the next cycle and when that all settles down, I will have a chat with them and see if they want me to be a part of it.”
Brothers Simon and Richard Mantell were also surprise omissions from Lee’s Team GB squad. Lee added: “We’ve had a lot of injury trouble over the last six weeks. Injuries have delayed selection but they have not actually changed it.
“Simon is not fit to be selected, so it is not even a discussion point as to whether he would make the squad. There are certainly players in isolation who would consider themselves to be great players – but it was actually about how they combined together, which is what we were trying to work towards for the final 16.”