Richard Mantell defends GB performances at Champions Trophy

By Ollie WilliamsBBC Olympic sports reporter

One of Britain's top hockey players has defended the team's sixth-place finish in this month's Champions Trophy.

GB lost four of their six games at the eight-team tournament in New Zealand, which was the last high-profile international event before London 2012.

But defender Richard Mantell told BBC Sport the team had expected a struggle.

"It was a good opportunity to play against top teams but we always knew we wouldn't be at full match sharpness," the 30-year-old Reading player said.

"We knew we weren't going to be as sharp as we would have liked to be, had our plan been to peak for that particular tournament.

"That said, losing 8-1 to Spain was pretty painful from our point of view."

That group-stage drubbing by Spain followed a 2-1 opening victory over Pakistan and a 4-1 defeat by Australia, leaving Britain adrift of the semi-finals. They eventually lost 1-0 to Germany in a decider for fifth and sixth place.

"We've put in a lot of pretty heavy training, in the gym and on the pitch, in the last few months. We knew our legs and condition were not going to be perfect for a tournament," Mantell added.

"That showed in some of the games, particularly against Spain. Having said that, we created more chances than the Spanish in that game. You see 8-1 and think it's a hammering but they capitalised on their chances where we didn't.

"We're very confident that, in six months' time, the work we're doing now will pay off."

Spain are facing vital Olympic qualifiers in the coming months to make sure of their place at the Games, whereas Britain are already qualified as the host nation.

That luxury means that, while the Champions Trophy is a major event, ranking behind the Olympics and World Cup in importance, the British have chosen to focus on preparations for the Olympics. Mantell says the squad do not mind if that comes at the expense of results in the meantime.

"It's always frustrating - as players we'd like to play every tournament in the sharpest condition - but the reality is that, if you're going to peak for a big competition like the Olympics, you need to put the work in."

Athens Olympic gold medallists and reigning World Cup champions Australia beat Spain 1-0 in the final to lift the title.

The British squad now join their respective domestic clubs for the indoor season, culminating in January's Super Sixes finals at London's Wembley Arena, before the men head to South Africa for an outdoor training camp in February.