Interview: Ben Hawes - GB Men's Hockey Captain

By London_Duncan Last edited 111 months ago
Interview: Ben Hawes - GB Men's Hockey Captain
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Ben Hawes made his international debut at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester and has now made more than 140 appearances for England and Great Britain. He scored in Britain's opening 3-1 win over Egypt at the Athens 2004 Olympics, but the team could only go on to finish 9th. Having tasted club hockey in the Netherlands he's now back playing for Surbiton and has fought his way back from injury to be named England Men's captain for the Olympic tournament in Beijing. Tomorrow we'll hear from the Women's captain, Kate Walsh, but today Ben takes time out from team preparations in Macau to speak exclusively to Londonist.

Congratulations on qualifying for your second Olympic hockey tournament. How are you settling in over in Macau and will you be attending the opening ceremony?

Settling in fine and getting used to the heat, humidity and time difference, but looking forward to getting over to Beijing. I think the opening ceremony will be an amazing spectacle and should inspire us even more to perform well in our first game.

What are your most vivid memories of the Athens 2004 games?

The opening ceremony and not performing to our potential which has served as motivation for this Games. I want to put things right!

England's men are currently the highest ranked of the home nations at 8th in the world. Has Britain's gold medal in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Chile earlier this year given the squad the confidence to outperform that ranking?

Yes. I think we have the knowledge we can perform under pressure which definitely gives us confidence going into the Games and we will obviously be hoping to perform as high as possible.

After skippering that side to success how does it feel to be awarded the captaincy once again for these Olympics?

Of course it's a great honour to captain your country, but the way modern sport is, captaincy is only on the field. We have staff off the pitch to take care of the team and have other leaders within the team.

You played in Amsterdam for three years. How did that differ from playing hockey in this country?

Club hockey is a lot more professional over there - you train and play a lot more. Obviously being the next biggest sport to football in the Netherlands allows the game to be more professional. Due to the money and professionalism, there were a lot more international players over there than over here and I definitely improved my game whilst playing against top class players week in, week out.

How do you fit in your hockey with your job in fashion marketing?

The company I work for have been very understanding and it's almost worked more like a sponsorship where I'm working for the company but living as a full time hockey player. I think it's also helped and been a good distraction away from hockey as sometimes it can get a little bit intense when you're playing all the time.

Picture of Ben in action courtesy of Great Britain Hockey.

What's been the key factor in your bouncing back from disappointment at being left out of the squad for last summer's European Championships?

I think it's probably getting the opportunity to recover fully from my injuries. Having time out has been a big benefit and has allowed me to get rid of any niggling little injuries.

You also sustained a nasty facial injury last year which required the insertion of a metal plate. How hard was it to recover from that?

Obviously I was out of the game for a little while and required an operation, but once I was fit again, I was ready to go with no worries.

How much does it help having five Surbiton club colleagues in the squad with you?

We're probably used to playing for GB and England over the past few years more so than Surbiton, especially since only going back to play for Surbiton for the first time in four years, but the squad is pretty close and I have friends from both Surbiton and other clubs.

Which of your nineteen goals for Britain is your favourite?

Only one of them has been a field goal, out in Malaysia, so I guess it would be that, but scoring in the first game of the Athens Olympics was pretty nice.

Many sporting celebrities past and present attend the Olympics. Which one would you ideally bump into?

I met a few at the last Olympics and Commonwealth Games like Michael Phelps and Daniela Hantuchova who I wouldn't mind meeting again!

Do you aim to be available for selection for London 2012?

I've not made a decision as yet. We'll see how the Olympics goes this time and we'll see how much I'm enjoying playing at the top level in a year. Four years is a long time - if it wasn't in London I probably wouldn't be thinking about it.

Last Updated 31 July 2008