Australia will leave London without the Olympic gold medal they had hoped for, but there will be opportunity for redemption when they take on hosts Great Britain in the bronze medal-game at Riverbank Arena at 3:30pm London time today or 12:30am AEST, Sunday August 12. Foxtel Channel 189 will showcase the match LIVE from 12:20am AEST Sunday morning August 12.
The two teams have an even record against each other in Olympic competition, but Australia has never forgotten one of the team’s most painful losses against Britain in the semi-finals in Seoul in 1988.
Back then coach Ric Charlesworth was the highest profile player in the team during a remarkable career spanning five Olympics.
Charlesworth will be reminding his players of that loss when they take the field for the last time in London.
Australia, who has won every major tournament under Charlesworth, blew their chances of playing in the gold medal-game when they squandered their lead to bow out against Germany 4-2.
Britain on the other hand was on the wrong end of annihilation by the Dutch, 9-2, the greatest semi-final margin in Olympic competition since India defeated France 10-0 in 1936.
It also equaled Britain’s biggest ever losing margin at the Olympics setting the stage for a face-saving contest against Australia.
Australia has contested 12 Olympic competitions since 1964 reaching the semi-finals 11 times, but has played in just four finals.
Australia’s first and only gold medal came in Athens in 2004 with current teammates Jamie Dwyer, Liam de Young and Mark Knowles members of that campaign.
This has been the first time in Charlesworth’s career a team he has coached has not won gold.
“It’s very disappointing for the players and all of us, but when you play sport you go in knowing there will be a winner and a loser and we fell short at the last hurdle,” Charlesworth said.
Australia have played a robust, high tempo attacking game under Charlesworth which has come with risk which was apparent during the Games.
Leading into the semi-finals, Australia had created the most chances, had the most penalty corners, scored the most goals and conceded the least.
However, the five goals they conceded were all late in a game against Argentina and Great Britain, forcing a draw in each game. The late goals syndrome re-asserted itself to devastating effect against Germany in the semi-finals.
He said it has been difficult getting the players ready for the bronze-medal match.
“It’s very difficult, but that’s the task. It’s not easy, but our players are ambitious and it’s still a chance to win an Olympic medal.”
Hockey Australia Press Release