The opportunity to bid for success at another multi-sport Games may be fast approaching but Team England’s Iain Lewers insists he is not looking too far ahead with the World League Semi Final in Belgium the first priority.
The 31-year-old defender picked up a bronze medal at last summer’s Commonwealth Games with Team England to add to his bronze medal success at 2013’s World League Final and the European Championship in 2011.
And after winning promotion to the Premier League with club side Holcombe this season, Lewers now turns his attention to Olympic qualification – the disappointment of missing out on a medal at London 2012 still fresh in his memory.
Great Britain head to the World League Semi Finals knowing a top-three finish will be enough to book them a spot on the plane to Rio, but Lewers is urging his teammates to treat it like any other tournament.
“I’ve now played at London 2012 and at the Commonwealths as well – I think there are seven of us in that cycle – so a lot of us are familiar with the Olympic experience already,” he said.
“But most of the squad competed as England in the Commonwealth Games last year, so there’s a good blend of people with plenty of experience of what a multi-sport games is about.
“You wouldn’t be wrong to say that having played in those kind of big competitions makes you want to get back there.
“But that is further down the track at the moment. This is still very much a hockey tournament and we will be exposed to everything hockey as opposed to other athletes.
“So we haven’t talked about the opportunity to qualify for Rio a massive amount, as we don’t want to overplay what the tournament is.
“But at the same time there is an acknowledgement of the tournament’s importance. We don’t want to psyche ourselves out, but we are very aware of the opportunity.
“We have had a good hard month of training behind us. It’s a very exciting time, and we’re just looking forward to getting going now.”
Lewers grabbed the latest of his nine international goals in Great Britain’s 3-1 friendly victory over Commonwealth and World Champions Australia last Saturday, but can look forward to reaching another milestone in Belgium next week.
With 66 England caps already to his name, he could make his 50th appearance for GB in the pool stages of the World League Semi Final against Malaysia.
But Lewers is more focused on the job at hand, and overcoming a dangerous Belgium side – ranked fourth in the world – in their opening clash on Sunday.
He said: “It’s a huge honour to earn my 50th cap. Playing for England and Great Britain is still the biggest thing you can do in hockey.
“It will certainly be an emotional day and won’t go unnoticed on my part as I’ve put in a lot of hard work up to this point to get here.
“Not meaning to go into clichés but it will mean that much more if we are able to get off to a winning start against Belgium.
“They are a tricky side, and they’ll be strong at home. We’ve played them a number of times over the last 18 months, and we know they have a good corner threat with two or three good flickers, and a good midfield.
“I don’t think there’s much to pick between ourselves and them to be honest, they are always close matches.
“But I’m glad we are starting against them so we really feel like we are in the tournament from the off, and hopefully we can get things going early on.”
© Sportsbeat 2015