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Kookaburras fuming after being drawn to get up with sparrows in London

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Samantha Lane

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Olympic hockey outrage at 5am starts

Hockey Australia CEO Mark Anderson says early starts put the hockey team at a disadvantage.

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INCENSED by an "unfair" Olympic draw, compared with the British hosts' "very comfortable" schedule, Australian hockey bosses - backed by the national Olympic Committee - are appealing to the sport's international governing body for a correction.

Kookaburras coach and hockey great Ric Charlesworth told the Herald last night he had never known a world-leading team to be so disadvantaged by a competition schedule. Asked whether it could cost his world No.1-ranked team a gold medal in London, he replied: "who knows?"

The draw for the men's competition at the London Games has Australia playing three of six matches in the round-robin tournament at 8.30am. It means the Australian team will need to rise at 5am three times to compete during a gruelling 13-day event that climaxes with an evening gold medal final. Great Britain, by comparison, have been given three matches starting at 7pm and two at 4pm. Australia's only night match is when they play the hosts.

Rise and shine ... The Kookaburras will have to wake up at 5.30am to play games at 8.30am, much to the ire of coach Ric Charlesworth. In contrast, the British side will play all their games in the afternoon or evening.

Rise and shine ... The Kookaburras will have to wake up at 5.30am to play games at 8.30am, much to the ire of coach Ric Charlesworth. In contrast, the British side will play all their games in the afternoon or evening. Photo: Melissa Adams

"It's crazy," Charlesworth said. "And it's not like we're the 12th-ranked team in the tournament.

"How do you develop a routine around that program? At the Olympics it's hard enough as it is … and there's little difference between the best things. Small things make a difference. It already worries me that there are a range of things that we have wanted for this tournament and recent tournaments that we've been told 'no' to. I think they're trying to make it difficult for us. I hope that's not the case."

Charlesworth speculated that his team's draw might be a result of requests from Australia's Olympic television broadcasters, the Nine Network and Foxtel, and added that would make him "very angry". However, the director of Foxtel's Olympic coverage, Peter Campbell, said the network had no say in the hockey schedule. The Australian Olympic Committee is supporting Hockey Australia in its formal appeal, which was to be sent overnight to the head of the sport's international governing body, FIH, from Hockey Australia's president Stuart Grimshaw.

Charlesworth has already expressed strong concerns about the Olympic pitch after a test event this month, though his criticisms were shared by coaches of the British, Germany and Indian teams.

118 comments

  • Suck it up boys, and use it as motivation to win. No use whinging about it!

    Commenter
    beasleyst
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    May 24, 2012, 9:44AM
    • Yeah but the Aussies have to play a team that has to wake up early too!

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 11:28AM
    • Here, here! couldn't agree more ....you're professional sportsmen. you should be used to this kind of schedule. let's give 'em hell boys!!

      Commenter
      Paulineh
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 11:54AM
    • Its not about the teams they're playing, of course they're up at the same time (well, I hope so!). Its about the fact that our main rivals for medals don't have to play at the ridiculous hour once! Obviously Great Britain get cushy time slots for local fans, but Germany (defending Olympic champions, and huge rivals over the years) coast through the groups with easy scheduling, as well as the Dutch. When the finals games come around, the Kookaburras will have to go from getting up at 5am to playin at 5pm.

      Like Stuart said, its not about playing at 8.30am, its about playing at 8.30am 3 times, when others don't at all, and most only once or twice.

      Commenter
      KyleJ89
      Location
      Perth, WA
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 1:29PM
    • Paulineh & Peter, it is all about fairness in the draw. Yes these guys are elite athletes but I don't see our State of Origin players or our AFL, NRL players playing key matches at this time. Yes they may be up early a lot for training but not games where in a tournament 1 loss is all you need to miss out on medals.

      It at least sounds like they don't have a night game followed by a 5am get up time. If they do, then that would be ridiculous. I reckon all the teams should play at least 1 or maximum 2 games at early time slots and surely that could be done but now the draw is out you can bet noone else would want to change!

      I assume that the draw is actually done by FIH and then approved by the Olympic Committee or vice versa in which case I would be surprised if FIH would want one of their start teams being knocked out of contention.

      Commenter
      Pancho
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 7:46PM
  • Its called, home ground advantage. Deal with it and go to bed earlier.

    Commenter
    Mic123
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    May 24, 2012, 9:44AM
    • Rubbish. Home ground advantage relates to playing on the home ground, not the timing of the games. The draw is supposed to be fair - usually achieved by pulling names out of a hat; if it is not, it is cheating, not home ground advantage.

      Commenter
      Johnno
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 10:09AM
  • What can you say but HARDEN UP!

    Commenter
    Have a whine
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    May 24, 2012, 9:45AM
    • Why should the 12th ranked team have to play all thier games at 8:30. I understand the frustration from the coach, but whatever they gain from this will be another teams added disadvantage, a team possibly who is ranked 11th or 12th get the morning starts.

      Stop your whinging, cause you're starting to sound like a brit... and just get on with the job.

      Commenter
      YG
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 24, 2012, 9:47AM
      • He's not whinging about having morning starts, it's that HALF Australia's games are early, while only ONE of England's games is. The early morning starts ought to be evenly shared between the teams, whether ranked 1 or 12; anything else gives some teams an unfair advantage over others. That's all that's being said here.

        Commenter
        David
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        May 24, 2012, 12:23PM

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