There is no greater prize in hockey than the Olympics. With qualification already secured for the men & women of Argentina, Australia, France, Netherlands & South Africa along with India Men and China Women it is now time for the other teams to fight for their place. With no fewer than 50 Grays Ambassadors setting off to their respective Qualifier tournaments it is sure to be an epic battle.
Ahead of the tournaments we've caught up with Lena Neill & Johnny McKee of Team Ireland.
How have your preparations been ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers?
Prep has been really good. We spent two weeks over here in Valencia before Christmas and played some high quality opposition, so that was great for us. The last four months have involved a lot of hard work but I think it puts us in a great space as we enter this tournament.
Preparations have been very good for this tournament. Since our Euro B win in Dublin over the summer as a group we have trained regionally throughout Ireland during the week and nationally on the weekends. There has been a lot of sacrifice from the group to devote their time and effort into the preparation, however we believe it will be worth it.
How much would it mean to you to qualify for Paris 2024?
It would mean a huge amount. Every Olympics is special and I’m very grateful to be competing to get to another one. I think the possibility of being at an Olympics where family and friends can be there with us (unlike Tokyo) adds an extra bit of incentive, if that’s even possible. This team is special and I want us to be at the biggest tournaments.
It would mean a lot for me personally and for the sport in Ireland. I believe this is the pinnacle of our sport, and its something that we have aimed to compete in as a nation for a long time.