Ockenden motivated to win more trophies

Hobart's Eddie Ockenden is hoping to add a second Commonwealth Games gold medal to his collection in Scotland. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Hobart's Eddie Ockenden is hoping to add a second Commonwealth Games gold medal to his collection in Scotland. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

DESPITE being a part of perhaps the most successful national team in Australian sport, Eddie Ockenden and his Kookaburra teammates certainly won't be taking the coming Commonwealth Games tournament lightly.

The record compiled by the national men's hockey team, largely under supercoach Ric Charlesworth, is nothing short of remarkable, easily eclipsing the men's cricket team of the Waugh and Ponting eras and bordering on Harlem Globetrotter territory.

The Kookaburras have won five straight Champions Trophies to go with all four Commonwealth Games tournaments, three of the last four Sultan Azlan Shahs and back-to-back World Cups.

Only at the Olympics has the promise been unfulfilled, despite the team making the last eight semi-finals, and medalling at the last six Games.

Ockenden has shared in each of the Champions Trophy and World Cup triumphs and possesses two Olympic bronze medals, but will be just as motivated to defend the Commonwealth title he helped win with an emphatic 8-0 demolition of host India in the Dhyan Chand National Stadium four years ago.

He said the absence of global giants like the Netherlands, Germany and Spain won't lead to any complacency from the perennial champions.

``It's just different. It's not any less motivating once you're there,'' the 27-year-old said from Perth.

``It's exciting to be going to another Commonwealth Games. I really liked New Delhi, I thought it was a really good tournament.

``Obviously it's missing some of the strong European teams, but there's still some tough competition there. India, New Zealand, England, Pakistan, these are quality teams and there are others just as strong.

``We'll obviously want to get to the knockout stages and once you do you have to play well whoever you are up against.''

Hobart's North-West Grads midfielder, who was voted world young player of the year after his breakthrough showing at the 2008 Olympics, said Australia will seek to extend its ruthless streak from the World Cup in The Netherlands.

In front of a consistently full stadium in The Hague, the Kookaburras inflicted seven straight demolitions, scoring 30 goals and conceding just three, culminating in a jaw-dropping 6-1 thrashing of the host nation in the final.

``The World Cup was an unbelievable tournament,'' said Ockenden, who has played for Laren in the fiercely-competitive Dutch league.

``Having the men and women all together in a converted soccer stadium. It was probably the best hockey event I've been to.

``It was so well done with big crowds and to play in it and win it was even better. 

``Hockey has a really strong club environment over there and it's one of the best club competitions in the world. You have good, hard games every week. 

``When I played there it was heaps of fun with a lot of fine players and was a great experience.''

Hobart-born Ockenden, whose fellow Tasmanians Tim Deavin and Nick Budgeon missed the cut for Glasgow, has a cousin living in nearby Edinburgh so is looking forward to returning to Scotland.

It will be the Kookaburras' first tournament since the retirement of Charlesworth, with Graham Reid and Paul Gaudoin leading the team into group games against Wales, South Africa, India and the host nation at Scotland's National Hockey Centre.

Along with captain Mark Knowles, Chris Ciriello, Fergus Kavanagh, Trent Mitton, Simon Orchard and Matthew Swann, Ockenden was part of the side that won the 2010 Commonwealth final and is not expecting any let-up from the pace of the World Cup.

``It's a really fast game now and I think that's good for me because I like running up and back.

``You work hard, go off, have a rest, then come back on and work hard again.

``You train hard to be able to do that, but it's certainly rewarding because other teams struggle with that, as you saw in the World Cup final.''


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