TODAY |

Kiwi hockey teams ready to exorcise Olympic demons

It’s arguably one of the toughest ways to end an Olympic games - finishing in fourth place.

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Fourth place finishes and a last-minute collapse aren't haunting the men and women in Tokyo. Source: 1 NEWS

It’s a result that comes with many mixed emotions, signalling a good, but not quite good enough campaign to look back on.

For our Black Sticks women’s team, it’s been a reality they’ve lived with for the last two Olympic Games and heading into Tokyo, they’ve decided to face it head on.

“It’s something we’ve tried to talk about more the last wee while,” vice-captain Sam Charlton said.

“I think if you try to shy away from it and don’t talk about the times we came fourth it does become a bit of an Achilles heel.”

Captain Stacey Michelsen said the pain of Games past can be a resource now.

“It still hurts a lot and you still think about it all the time and that’s certainly a big driver of why I wanted to come to another Olympic games with the girls.”

New Zealand's Anita McClaren, right, fights for the ball with Germany's Franzisca Hauke during a women's field hockey bronze medal match. Source: Associated Press

Michelsen's drive and desire for an elusive medal could have a fairytale finish though with the veteran skipper a chance of winning one while simultaneously bringing up her 300th Test.

“To hit that sort of milestone at a Games like this would be truly special and I would love it if we do that.”

But both teams know fairytales don’t just happen with the men also facing demons from Rio after blowing their 2-0 quarter-final lead against gold favourites Germany in the dying minutes.

“It definitely still hurts,” Hugo Inglis said.

Both sides won’t have to wait long for their shots at redemption with the men’s campaign beginning this Saturday before the women take to the turf on Sunday.