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Golden chance for London-bound Flanagan

Hockeyroos defender Anna Flanagan believes the national team is perfectly placed to break a 12-year drought and challenge for Olympic gold.

Hockeyroos defender Anna Flanagan believes the national team is perfectly placed to break a 12-year drought and challenge for Olympic gold.
The 20-year-old Canberra product is part of a 27-strong squad which will be culled to 16 a month before the London Olympic Games begin on July 27.
The Hockeyroos haven’t won a medal, let alone gold, since collecting the ultimate prize on home soil at Sydney in 2000. But Flanagan, who has 39 caps for her country, said the upcoming month-long training block would ensure they had no excuses if they fall short.
‘‘Definitely a gold medal, that’s always been the goal,’’ Flanagan said. ‘‘If we play our best then we can do that.   We’ve shown we can compete against all the sides above us in the past year.’’
The Hockeyroos are ranked seventh in the world and failed to qualify for this year’s Champions Trophy tournament, with only the top six in the world receiving automatic entry.
But having recently split a series with sixth-ranked New Zealand, the signs are there that the massive clearout instigated by new coach Adam Commens is paying dividends. Commens took over the reins in the wake of the Hockeyroos winning gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Flanagan only received her call-up to India at the last minute as a replacement for Kobie McGurk, who succumbed to an ankle injury.
She has become a regular contributor in the past two years, but isn’t packing her bags for London just yet.
‘‘It’s really exciting and getting down to crunch time now,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s been an 18-month process with a new coaching group and a new team, this whole time leading up to this one event.  
‘‘We had to learn from a lot of our mistakes early on.  We’re still improving and have a long way to go, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction.   We are a very competitive group.  Everyone will keep on training up until the team leaves for London because history has shown in the past, there normally is an injury and someone is called up late.’’
The Hockeyroos were dealt a blow yesterday when NSW defender Jade Warrender had her Olympic Games dream dashed after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament at training in Perth this week.
Commens was confident the 19-year-old would return to the international stage after spending up to 12 months on the sidelines.
‘‘Jade has a long career ahead of her for the Hockeyroos and after rehabilitation we expect to see her back to her best,’’ Commens said.
‘‘We have a squad of 27 and that is justified when something like this happens.’’
Meanwhile, a minute’s silence will be held before all men’s and women’s Hockey ACT capital league one games this weekend to honour Lizzie Watkins, who died during a game in Perth this week. Watkins was struck in the head by a ball deflected from her stick.