The Calvin Report: Kookaburras plunge the knife in

Britain's men fail to emulate the women by taking a bronze medal as they are defeated 3-1 by Australia

Jason Lee held the most emotionally charged team meeting of his life yesterday morning. He could not contain his tears as he read out a message from a group of disadvantaged teenagers, who put an Olympic medal into its proper perspective.

Thirty children from the sink estates of Tower Hamlets, who have formed themselves into a group named the Fre Flyers, have been mentored by Lee and his GB men's hockey squad over the past two years.

"Thank you for sharing your lives and values with us" they wrote. "Thank you for teaching us about teamwork, respect, and never giving up. Thank you for staying together, and always striving to be the best."

No further team talk was required. Lee successfully lobbied officials to get the children tickets for the bronze medal match against Australia, whose 3-1 win lacked the traumatic impact of Thursday's 9-2 semi-final defeat by Holland.

Everyone dies a little when they lose at the sharp end of an Olympic tournament. Lee's men had a mere 44 hours to recover from that Dutch defeat, which appeared to unravel seven years' work.

No one knew better the challenge facing them than the man who ultimately inflicted further pain, Australian coach Ric Charlesworth.

He is the Renaissance Man of modern sport, having punctuated a stellar coaching career, in hockey, cricket and Australian Rules football, with spells as a politician and surgeon.

Charlesworth admitted: "I feel for the GB team. The interesting thing about coaching is that you have to trouble the comfortable, and comfort the troubled."

Charlesworth empathised with Lee's task. The GB squad, conditioned to understanding their responsibilities to one another, and the sport as a whole, had nowhere to hide.

"There was a lot of grieving, which we encouraged out into the open as quickly as possible," their performance director David Faulkner said. "We had to confront it, manage it, and change the mind set."

They were helped by the redemptive performance of Britain's women, whose bronze medal, won at New Zealand's expense on Friday evening, helped erase their own soul-scouring memories of semi-final failure.

That medal eased fears funding would be cut, despite Britain's men and women living up to their ranking, as the world's fourth best teams. It was the women's first medal since 1992, reward for sacrifices made in the aftermath of bitterness and bankruptcy.

"That win was absolutely huge for our sport," Faulkner acknowledged. "We have been on a starvation diet for too long. It is absolutely vital that we use that, to ensure we have a legacy, in terms of performance, from these Games."

The underlying emotions were put into sharp perspective by the women's coach, Danny Kerry.

"I'm working hard to hold it together," he admitted. "That medal represents seven and a half years of my life, so there is just a deep sense of contentment.

"Our vision should be to be inspired by the likes of cycling, rowing and sailing. If you think small you only ever achieve small.

"I will probably upset a few people but I think women's hockey can be - and should be - the premier female team sport in the country.

"People who succeed in life are the people who keep coming back. I just knew we would be good to go. That comes from a lot of tough work. There is no shortcut for that."

The narrative of yesterday's game generated an anxious atmosphere. At times the capacity 15,000 crowd were cocooned in such sympathetic silence that only the hum of an overhead helicopter competed with the yelps of the players.

There was a single sop to those of us who believe in the colonial conventions of theatrical rivalry: a nose-to-nose confrontation between GB captain Barry Middleton and Australia defender Chris Ciriello.

The comedy value of the exchange – which resembled a scrawny civil servant being menaced by a surf dude – hid the fact that Australia had their own demons to address. Charlesworth, whose CV includes two Olympic titles, as coach to the Australian women's team, conceded he was "devastated" to miss out on another gold medal.

His side dominated possession, before taking the lead halfway through the first half, with a goal of punishing simplicity from Simon Orchard, who shot into the top left hand corner of the net from just inside the D.

Britain could have succumbed, but equalised seven minutes from half-time, when Iain Lewers converted a clever penalty corner routine.

Set pieces tend to be decisive in hockey. GB survived three short corners before Jamie Dwyer scrambled in a deflected shot by Matt Gohdes 11 minutes into the second half.

Goalkeeper James Fair made a string of spectacular saves, but there was a sense of inevitability to the game's telling goal, 12 minutes from time. He could only deflect a driving shot by Dwyer to Kieran Govers.

The search for compensations went beyond the usual litany of tall tales and strategic excuses. Hockey has sold itself well at the London Games, and is determined not to repeat past mistakes.

"That team meeting told me everything," Faulkner admitted. "We've been in some dark places over the last couple of days, but we will not waste this opportunity, like we did in 1988 and 1992."

Whether Lee stays around for Rio is a moot point. He looked drained yesterday evening. "To be honest, I've found this very challenging," he said. "I have given my heart and soul to coaching. There have been tears of joy, but they've been lost in an ocean of heartache."

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil