Welsh hockey duo Jacob Draper and Leah Wilkinson's GB Olympic dreams

Media playback is not supported on this device

‘It will be the cherry on top of the cake’

Jacob Draper was barely out of nappies when a Welshman last represented Great Britain's hockey team at an Olympic Games.

The now 21-year-old unsurprisingly does not remember David Hacker playing at Sydney 2000.

But Draper is now preparing to help Great Britain reach next year's Olympic Games at this weekend's playoff against Malaysia in London.

He only made his debut for them in early October.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet, I don't think," Draper told BBC Sport Wales.

"Probably after Sunday, hopefully when we get the win, I'll sit back and think 'wow, what a good couple of months'."

'The top of the mountain'

GB's men must overcome Malaysia, who are ranked 11th in the world, in a two-legged playoff.

The games will be played on Saturday and Sunday at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre, on the site of the London 2012 Olympics.

Jacob Draper
Cwmbran-born Jacob Draper plays club hockey for Hampstead & Westminster.

The winner will earn a spot at Tokyo 2020 next summer.

"If I was being realistic, Paris [Olympic Games in 2024] was probably my long term goal," admitted Draper, who only graduated from Swansea University in the summer.

"But I had just to take this opportunity with both hands.

"[The Olympic Games] are the top of the mountain in my opinion. It'd be an amazing experience."

'I never expected it to happen'

Great Britain's women will also have Welsh representation.

Wales captain Leah Wilkinson is thought to be the nation's most capped athlete in any sport.

The 32-year-old waited a long time for her GB debut which came against India just four weeks ago.

"It's been a whirlwind," said Wilkinson - who is a full time history teacher.

"The last couple of weeks have been easier as I've been on half term. So it's come at a fortunate time."

This year Great Britain's women have struggled to match the form that saw them win Olympic gold in 2016.

Leah Wilkinson
Leah Wilkinson (centre) is Wales' most capped sportsperson

But Wilkinson is optimistic about the prospect of overcoming 18th-ranked Chile to reach the Tokyo Olympics.

"I've played here [at Lee Valley Hockey Centre] a few times with my club but it's going to be a little bit different at the weekend," Wilkinson continued.

"What an opportunity to play at the home of hockey in this country surrounded by thousands of people watching.

"I feel incredibly lucky - it's something I never expected to happen."

You do not have to look as far back to find the last Welsh woman to play hockey at an Olympic Games.

Sarah Thomas helped Great Britain win gold at London 2012.

Victories over the weekend would not guarantee either Draper or Wilkinson their own seat on the plane to Tokyo next summer.

But it would certainly be a step towards joining a pretty exclusive club in Welsh hockey history.

Top Stories