Hockey World League: GB women target further success

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter in Rosario
Lily Owsley
Lily Owsley scored the winning goal against Germany in June to seal Olympic qualification

Britain's women's hockey team aim to prove they can be a consistent 'major force' before the Rio Olympics by winning the World League Final.

Victory in Rosario, Argentina, would cap an incredible year in which GB qualified for the 2016 Games and claimed European gold as England.

GB face hosts and London Olympic silver medallists Argentina on Saturday, China on Sunday and Australia on Tuesday.

"We want to keep up that momentum," skipper Kate Richardson-Walsh said.

"We've seen the Dutch and the Australians do it over the years - building on each performance - and we want to show we can be a major force like them too."

The British captain, who has made 248 appearances for GB and England is likely to pass the 250 mark in Rosario, while her wife Helen is currently on 99 and will expect to attain a century of appearances.

The team warmed up for the World League Final - where they are drawn in Pool B - by facing Argentina in three low-profile fixtures.

Two of the matches were drawn, with Argentina claiming victory in the other, but GB are not too concerned about the results.

"I think it was probably a bit of 'cat and mouse' from both sides really with neither wanting to give too much away tactically before the main event," Richardson-Walsh told BBC Sport.

"We can't wait to take on Argentina here as it's one of the best places in the world to play hockey. There's so much passion and the atmosphere will be incredible."

London will host the last major women's hockey event before the Rio Olympics with the Champions Trophy in June next year, but GB head coach Danny Kerry feels the World League Final is still a hugely important event.

"In terms of our preparations for Rio, it is absolutely fundamental," he told BBC Sport.

"The top eight teams in the world are here and you don't get the chance to challenge yourself against some of these nations too often so we aim to really seize this opportunity."

London Olympic bronze medallist Crista Cullen has returned to the squad for the first time since retiring after the 2012 Games and will be hoping to add to her 171 international caps.

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