TASMANIA’S hockey hero Eddie Ockenden has opened up about his Commonwealth Games gold medal win, saying the accolade was the product of dedication and hard work.
The 27-year-old was part of the Australian men’s hockey team that maintained its perfect record at the event by claiming a fifth straight gold at the Commonwealth Games with a 4-0 defeat of India.
Ockenden was the only Tasmanian to claim a gold medal at the Games and was instrumental in the victory, acting as stopper at three short corners that delivered a Chris Ciriello hat-trick.
Ockenden also claimed the game’s fourth goal.
The medal is Tasmania’s fourth in Glasgow, following cyclist Amy Cure’s silver and bronze on the track and Hamish Peacock’s bronze in the javelin.
The competition’s finale adds to a phenomenal record for the 2008 world young player of the year, who has also been part of the team’s back-to-back World Cup wins, five straight Champions Trophy titles and successive Olympic Games bronze medals.
‘‘It’s a fantastic end to a long year,’’ he said.
‘‘We started it last December training for the World Cup and it’s been a long and pretty stressful campaign but to win the World Cup and then Comm Games is absolutely awesome for this team and we’re really proud.
‘‘This is definitely up there. It’s an amazing tournament. We love coming to the Commonwealth Games and it was something we really set our sights on this year.’’
Ockenden hopes the Kookaburras’ win will boost the state of the game back home.
‘‘It means a lot for the game in Australia and really good that we can keep performing, girls as well, on a really high level,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a really solid performance. We were able to suffocate India with a really good defensive effort and we created a number of chances, we could have had a lot of goals in that first half. It was a really solid performance, probably our best of the tournament.
‘‘Did I get all the assists? I’ll count them for sure. I need every one I can get.’’
Australia dominated the tournament at Glasgow’s National Hockey Centre, cruising through the group stages with wins over Wales, South Africa, India and Scotland before a 4-1 semi-final defeat of England in which Ockenden scored the late sealer.
Ockenden admitted the result was an occasion he used to dream about when he began playing hockey in Hobart.
‘‘Every time I went to training or got on the pitch, when you’re a youngster you look up to the Commonwealth Games and Olympic athletes and just want to emulate them,’’ he said.
‘‘You progress, start playing with one in the state team as I did with Matthew Wells who had won Commonwealth and Olympic gold and then you progress to the national team and just thrive on the culture of success and hard work.
‘‘Now it’s amazing to be part of this team. We haven’t lost many games in the past six years, have won many tournaments and have a really strong culture of improving and learning.
‘‘Everyone said we were destined to come home with the gold medal from the Commonwealth Games but we put so much hard work in, train so hard for so long together and we love playing together and winning together, it’s the best.’’