The West

Kookaburras on target for another gold
Ric Charlesworth and his team fly out. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Four decades after making his Olympic debut as a player, Ric Charlesworth will preside over one of the shortest-priced favourites in Games history when he leads the Kookaburras to London.

Ranked No.1 in the world, the Australian men's hockey team will head to London as one of the best hopes for gold.

Brothers-in-law Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles have tasted success before, winning a first Olympic gold medal for the men in Athens eight years ago along with London team-mate Liam de Young.

Charlesworth and his team flew out of Perth yesterday after a fond farewell from their young families.

After a distinguished career as a player spanning five Olympics and as coach of the Hockeyroos, with whom he won Olympic gold in Atlanta and Sydney, this will be Charlesworth's first and probably last Olympic campaign with the men.

"Prime Minister Billy McMahon saw us off at the airport in Melbourne in 1972 - and that was my first experience as a young tyro," Charlesworth said. "My playing career is so long ago, I have almost forgotten it and 40 years on I would never have imagined I would still be involved in doing this."

He said life took different twists and turns but it was unlikely he would be around in the sport in four years. "I think it is very unlikely, but I am contracted for two more years and four seems much too far away," Charlesworth said.

His only focus is on the job ahead, with a lot of hard work and planning being done. "We are prepared for any contingency because you want to do as much as you can in every respect not to leave anything to chance," Charlesworth said.

"They (the players) are good enough to be on top of the dais and that is what we are aiming to do but we will take each day as it comes."

Dwyer, a five-time world player of the year, has Australia's goal-scoring record in his sights. He needs three to tie former captain Mark Hager's record of 179 goals.

"Jamie has to play his role and he understands that but there is a range of players who have the potential to make a difference," the coach said.

"I will be hoping they do that because we have the best midfield in the world and that is the engine room of the team where you win the game."

The West Australian

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