English hockey star Simon Mantell has been involved in international hockey for 10 years, and says that it is the golden team moments at the Commonwealth Games that are his motivation.
Beginning his long campaign of international hockey at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, Mantell has been a continuous and long term source of success on the England side. Contributing to the England squad’s fifth finish at the 2006 Hockey World Cup, Mantell has gone on to helping his team to fourth in both the 2006 and 2010 Commonwealth Games, before finally reaching the podium with a victorious bronze at Glasgow 2014.
“It’s an absolutely amazing feeling to compete at the Commonwealths. I’d only made my debut for England five months before the 2006 Games and I was just so pleased to go out there.
“The Commonwealth Games is an incredible multisport event, and the opening ceremony is such a special moment. It’s always an honour to represent England.”
Since his inaugural appearance in England kit, however, Mantell’s career has not been plain sailing. Badly breaking his foot during a warm-up in 2012, the hockey star was relegated to the injury bench for the duration of the London 2012 Olympics, while injury forced him to sit out of another home tournament last year; the 2015 EuroHockey Championships. If anything, the lost time has made him hungry for future success.
“It was heart-breaking to miss out on London. Obviously I was absolutely devastated to not be able to play, but that’s just the nature of the sport and I’m so pleased to be back competing for England and GB. The injury has really spurred me on.”
After the disappointment of 2012 and 2015, Mantell will finally get his opportunity to play in a major home championship later this year, in the Hockey Champions Trophy in June. Set to take place in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the event promises the lively and supportive home crowd that Mantell so values.
“The Olympic Park has a great legacy. We’ve played a few matches there since 2012, but it’s always a very special atmosphere.
“Playing abroad certainly makes you appreciate the home crowd. The atmosphere at the EuroHockey Championships was amazing, and I’m sure it will be again at the Champions Trophy.”
For the British hockey team, the Champions Trophy will form an important component in their build-up towards Rio, but the Commonwealth Games continue to occupy a very special part of Mantell’s hockey career. Team England’s triumphant bronze at Glasgow 2014 forms a particularly memorable moment for the hockey star, which continues to spur him on through the dark times.
“Glasgow 2014 was incredible. We won on penalty shoot-out. I came fourth in the two games before, so it would have been heart-breaking to have lost that match again. It was so special to come third, and it was a great experience standing on the podium with my teammates.”
As the nation will this year celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday in the same week as St. George’s Day, the coming few days are set to be filled with all things England. Mantell above all certainly knows what it means to be a part of a united England team, and to play to a supportive England crowd.