Field Hockey Canada > Olympic Preview: Veterans Tupper and Pearson come full circle in Rio

Olympic Preview: Veterans Tupper and Pearson come full circle in Rio

PHOTO: Mark Pearson and Scott Tupper were a part of the Canadian team that won silver at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Ontario in July 2015.

August 4, 2016 | Shaheed Devji |

Canada’s men field hockey team is only two days away from taking to the field at the Olympic Games. And when it does, nearly the entire roster will be experiencing the Olympics for the first time.

Except for two players.

Team captain Scott Tupper and veteran midfielder Mark Pearson are the only two players on the Canadian team who have competed at an Olympic Games. And nearly ten years after qualifying for and then making their Olympic debut at the 2008 Games in Beijing, the Rio Olympics bring an end to a journey that has had it all.

“Being the two young guys on the Beijing team and being able to share that – reflecting back – was awesome,” says Pearson, who was the youngest member of the 2008 Olympic team. Tupper was the second youngest.

“And to go through some disappointment with him was tough.”

The two qualified for the Olympics in their first attempt. Shortly after, they were off to the 2010 World Cup – also on the first try.

It would have been easy for the duo to expect to be at every major event as their careers progressed. But it did not play out that way.

It turns out those two events were the last two major events for which Canada’s men qualified, leaving Tupper and Pearson with the task of bringing the team back to the highest level of hockey.

“We have a role as senior players to get the team back to the Olympics,” Tupper says. “And you almost feel like you’re letting the program down if we were to let another one slide.”

That role as team leaders came swiftly after the Canadians missed out on the London Games, when the team saw many changes.

“It was a bit daunting really,” Pearson recalls. “When some of the guys retired and suddenly we’re there left as the key guys, as the guys that need to lead this team. We really wanted to continue that legacy.”

Pearson credits the work ethic of the entire group, not just the sixteen players in Rio, but those who have been training and competing for the last eight years to get Canada back to the Olympics.

And Tupper, who has taken them helm from Rob Short – the last field hockey captain at the Olympic Games – credits those before him.

“I was put with Rob as a roommate (in Beijing),” Tupper says. “So he had to deal with me as a young guy, which maybe was too bad for him at the time, but it instilled a sense of pride in the program and also maybe lit a fire for me in terms of wanting to be a leader and help shape the direction of the team.”

That fire and direction has helped Tupper, Pearson and Canada return to the Olympics.

And while the two are proud just getting back to the Games, it is by no means good enough.

“There is certainly a sense of accomplishment in qualifying and that’s really good but there’s a job to be done,” Tupper adds. “We want to achieve something that Canada has never done at an Olympic Games.”

The highest finish for Canada’s men’s field hockey team at the Olympics is tenth place.

And with the new quarterfinal format at the Olympics and Canada’s men having a recent history of making it to and winning a quarterfinal match at a key tournament (Canada qualified for the 2016 Olympics by beating higher ranked New Zealand in a shootout at the 2015 Hockey World League Semifinal in Argentina) the team is aiming high in Rio.

“We’ve written history already in qualifying outside of a Pan American tournament for the first time and we’re here to write history again,” Pearson says.

And if they do, one thing is certain; as they have for the last eight years, Tupper and Pearson will play important roles along the way.

Canada opens the 2016 Olympic Games on Saturday, August 6th against Germany at 2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET. The game can be watched live at