Women's Black Sticks feel the pain of defeat

GREG FORD IN LONDON
Last updated 05:49 11/08/2012

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Hockey

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Oh the pain. Oh the despair. Witness its palpable rawness at the Riverbank Arena this morning - caught expertly through the lens of Lawrence Smith - when the New Zealand women's hockey team's Olympic dreams were shattered.

Sam Harrison's soul looks lost. Tears stream down Cathryn Findlayson's face. Look a bit closer and you can see the team's bubble bursting in the imagery.

If it looked painful to be at Riverbank, I can assure you it was.

It's not often a New Zealand team puts themselves in contention for a medal on the back of a tidal wave of excellent form and team unity for it to all come crashing down in one heaped pile of broken hearts and minds.

But was the upshot of Great Britain's 3-1 win this morning.

No one embodied the Black Sticks campaign more than Katie Glynn.

She played through the pain barrier against the Dutch when conked on the head. Playing this morning with stitches in her melon, tears again rolled down her cheek when she attributed her team's demise to that oldest of sporting hazards.

"We did exactly what we talked about not doing. We let the crowd get on top of us and they can be intimidating. That is frustrating and it is disappointing to feel as if you let yourself down."

The Blacks Sticks timed their worst performance for the worst possible moment and while coach Mark Hager's eyes were dry - as was his wit - he admitted his team was handed not so much a hockey lesson but a "life lesson".

He went on to offer an apology to "the British people" for a testy live BBC interview after the game in which he said he came across like a "sad sack" and also spoke one undeniable truth; that Great Britain just had more desire and passion for the bronze medal.

You only had to look at their skipper Kate Walsh for evidence of that.

The 32-year-old defender played with a broken jaw.

Earlier in the tournament she spent three nights in The Royal London following surgery to have a plate inserted in her face.

"You only had to see her diving around for the ball to see they wanted it more," Hager noted ruefully.

"My girls thought the win was going to happen because we had had a good tournament and because we had a good game against the Dutch."

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- Fairfax Media

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