Russell not dwelling on the past

Kane Russell back in Dunedin for Christmas in 2015 prior to heading away for the Rio Olympics the...
Kane Russell back in Dunedin for Christmas in 2015 prior to heading away for the Rio Olympics the following year. Photo: Peter McIntosh
For four years, Black Sticks defender Kane Russell has had to re-live it nearly every day.

And he is hell bent on revenge.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the Black Sticks men’s team was leading Germany 2-1 in a quarterfinal with less than a minute to go.

But let’s not talk about the next 53 seconds. The Germans scored a penalty corner to equalise and then with less than five seconds left scored the winner.

Ask Russell about that and it would be fair to say it was not the best moment of his life.

"Yeah, just a numb feeling when it happened. Now it does not really get away from you," he said.

"When you go on any site, any social media, open up your Instagram, anything, and there it is — the greatest comeback in hockey history."

Russell said when it happened he simply could not believe it.

"I remember looking up at the scoreboard with eight minutes to go and we were looking pretty controlled and thinking we are into the semifinals."

But it was not to be.

Roll on four years and Russell is set to return to the Olympic Games and is chasing gold.

"It is a chance of redemption. We will be going out to win it. I’d like to make up with what happened with Germany, like to get some revenge."

Russell (29) was part of the Black Sticks Olympics squad named yesterday and the defender was just over six weeks away from the first game against India at Tokyo.

After all that training and hard work over four years, Russell admitted he had never thought about not going.

"If it is going ahead then they are making decisions that they believe they can hold it successfully."

He had total trust in the people making the decisions and was keen to play.

He admitted it would be different than Rio de Janeiro and players would be spending a lot of time in their rooms. It would be disappointing not being able to mingle with other athletes

But if that what had to be done to make the Games go ahead then he was comfortable with that. The details around protocols were still being worked on.

Russell had already had a taste of strict controls, spending eight weeks playing in Germany last year when the country was in the midst of an outbreak.

"You were masking up all the time, going through a lockdown although we got an exemption. Got tested at every game and training, five times a week. I felt good, got through it fine."

The Black Sticks would play Australia later this month in Perth in a couple of warm-up games. The side will then come home to try to acclimatise for Japan.

"In Japan you are looking at 35degC and 80% humidity. It is horrible. I’ve played in 43degC before and it is [worse] than that."

 - Otago women’s player Tessa Jopp missed out on the Black Sticks women’s Olympics side but was named as a reserve.


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