Hawes reflects on his Olympic experience
Ben Hawes is looking for closure on his exploits as part of Great Britain’s Olympic hockey team after the disappointment of just missing out on a medal.
The 32-year-old from Kingston was an integral part of the team that fell short in the bronze medal play-off, losing 3-1 to Australia.
That disappointment, coupled with a 9-2 hammering at the hands of Holland in the semi-finals, meant all the impressive displays that got Great Britain out of the group stage in the first place were soured with bittersweet regret.
Hawes, who will be returning to domestic league action with Wimbledon this season, will be part of the Olympic parade that will travel through London on September 10 and he hoped it would draw a line under the disappointment.
Hawes, pictured right, said: “I have had a lot of time to myself since the Games to reflect on the experience.
“And while there is still a tinge of disappointment in terms of missing out on a medal, I am starting to reflect more on how great it was to be involved in the whole Olympics experience.
“When you’re in the bubble of the Olympic village you don’t appreciate just how much the public’s imagination has been caught by it all.
“People who wouldn’t support hockey in normal circumstances have said they saw our games and have said how impressed they were with everything.
“It’s great that the team reached the semi-final but, on the flip side, I will always remember London 2012 for missing out on that medal.”
Great Britain caught the public’s imagination by playing in some of the Olympics’ best matches as they qualified from the group stage unbeaten.
After beating Argentina 4-1 in front of a partisan crowd, the disappointment of a 2-2 draw with South Africa was offset with a fine 4-1 win over Pakistan.
But the biggest excitement was saved for when Great Britain came back from 3-0 down to draw with Australia, before claiming the all-important point they needed in a nailbiting 1-1 draw with Spain.
Hawes, who plies his domestic trade with Wimbledon, of the English Hockey League Conference East, said: “The crowds at all the games were the highlight for me.
“I have never played, and probably never will play again, in an atmosphere like the one in the game when we came back against Australia.
“And, although it is horrible for me to say, the crowd never gave up on us against Holland when we were down and out.
“Even when the score was getting worse and worse they never became disgruntled with us.”
After appearing in three Olympic Games, Hawes will be 36 when the Rio tournament comes around in 2016, but he is not ruling out retirement from the international scene just yet.
He said: “It is always dangerous to make such decisions when the emotions are still quite raw.
“I shall enjoy watching the Paralympics, returning to office life and then focusing on league hockey with Wimbledon.
“Come Christmas I may have more of an idea how I want to move forward with hockey.”
But, if he was to call it a day, Hawes said there was one abiding memory he would take away from Beijing, Athens and London – and that was the lighting of the Olympic flame.
He said: “It is the magical moment for any Olympian.
“I remember each one so vividly because when it is lit the Games are on and you start looking forward to the first match.”