PHOTO: Canada’s Niki Sandhu at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California (Courtesy of Collections Canada)
With only 100 days remaining until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Canada’s men’s field hockey team is eager for what’s ahead. But before turning the focus entirely to the upcoming Olympics, the Canadian men recently paid homage to their Olympic past at a team event in Vancouver.
The current senior Men’s National Team was split into groups, each of which was tasked with researching and presenting on Canada’s previous men’s field hockey teams which competed at the Olympics.
“Knowing where you come from and respecting your history is important in every aspect of life,” says veteran forward Matthew Guest of the team’s recent task. “I think that it really rings true for this group because we are very proud of our history and we’re very proud that we’re forging our own part of it.”
The six groups presented at the Field Hockey Canada offices Monday in Vancouver, setting the tone for the lead-up to the Games, which begins in earnest Wednesday with the 100-day mark.
Canada’s men have a storied history at the Olympic Games. Including this summer’s qualification, Canada’s men have qualified for seven (1964, 1976, 1984, 1988, 2000, 2008, and 2016) of thirteen Olympic Games dating back to 1964.
Canada’s best finish is 10th in what is now a 12-team tournament, but has seen more teams be a part of the tournament in the past.
“If we finish higher than tenth, I think that would be a huge thing for field hockey in Canada,” says midfielder Brenden Bissett, who would be a first-time Olympian if he cracks the squad this summer.
Bissett and his older brother Stephen – also a part of the current Canadian men’s program – already have a link to the Games. Their uncle, David, represented Canada in both the 1976 and 1984 Olympics.
“He’s talked to us a little bit,” says Bissett. “He just said the worst thing that can happen on the field is you mis-trap the ball. Don’t worry about every play too much. Just go out there and try your best.”
There’s no doubt the Canadians will try. It is a hallmark of athletes in this country.
And that the current contingent of Canadian field hockey players has once again qualified for the Olympics and is set to further the tradition of competing at the highest level is something Guest and his teammates hope is not lost on the broader sporting community.
“It’s a huge worldwide sport. It’s hockey and we’re a hockey country in Canada,” adds Guest, who – if he is selected to the Olympic team this summer – will also be going to his first Olympics. “I think we would really like the world to know what we’ve achieved, and what this small community has achieved over a number of generations.”
Watch – #RoadToRio – Honouring Canada’s Olympic past: