Olympic Moments: No 3. British hockey Gold (1988)
David Faulkner: 'When Sherwani scored... I knew I had my Olympic gold'
In our series celebrating Great Britain's feats, David Faulkner, who set up the third goal, remembers triumph over the West Germans
Tuesday 29 May 2012
If any Olympian tells you that they do not dream of scoring or setting up the winning goal, saving the ball on the line, making that longest jump, throwing the furthest throw, standing on the podium... they are not telling the truth. It's what you live for. And this was the 1988 Olympic final. This was against West Germany. This was it. I had had my dreams and now they were all coming true.
When Imran Sherwani scored our third – that's when reality struck home. We were there. We had made it. I knew I had my Olympic gold.
I chipped the ball down the flank for Steve Batchelor. He took the ball down and crossed it in for Imran to slot it in. That made it 3-0. They got a late consolation, but the result was never really in doubt.
In sport there are rare moments when everything comes together. And the final in the Seongnam Stadium in Seoul was one of those. We all had our 'A' game on that day.
It was our mental strength that saw us through. As a group, we were very good at learning lessons. We had lost in the World Cup final to Australia, lost on penalty flicks to the Netherlands in the European Cup final. And at the Olympics we learned from our semi-final win over Australia, where we had recovered from losing a two-goal lead to triumph 3-2. We knew when we had to put people to the sword.
Everyone was so focused. I had never been with a group of people that were so calm before a game. There were some very powerful speeches. Richard Dodds, our captain, and Paul Barber, a full-back alongside me, led the way.
It was a huge, significant day for Richard and Paul. This – as for Ian Taylor and Sherwani – would be their last game for Great Britain. And that added to the emotion of the occasion.
Richard and Paul were totally different, but they complemented each other perfectly. Richard was very calm, very professional and very detailed. He was full of passion, drive and spirit. Some individuals were pulled out and some home truths were said, but it was all done in the right manner. The impact was very strong.
We may not have been the most skilful, but we were the strongest mentally. We faced the pressure. We could look the Germans in the eye. We had beaten them in the World Cup semi-final two years earlier in London. We knew we could do it again.
I had never felt so calm and so confident. I knew we had Sean Kerly and Sherwani up front who could get goals for us. And then there was Dodds in midfield and Taylor in goal.
On a personal level, it was my best game. You always want to be the best athlete you can be. And that day I think I was the best hockey player I could be. I just felt proud that I had done my job.
After the ceremony, we went back to the Olympic village. These were the days before instant replays. It's not like the BBC now where everything is up and available to see within two minutes. In the village then there was a VHS room. We would rush back there and wait for the tape to get back, and then you had to sign it out as though you were at Blockbuster.
There were a dozen of us there waiting for the tape to come back after the final. We waited and waited. And then we kept rewinding it, replaying the last five minutes of the game and the award ceremony over and over again.
I just about squeezed on to the BBC highlights, you see the ball just leaving my stick right at the start. The goal reflected how well we had played. It was a fine reward, for a fine performance.
And of course it led to the immortal line from the commentator Barry Davies: "Where were the Germans? And, frankly, who cares?"
This series is being run in conjunction with Richard House Children's Hospice, which is based in the Olympic borough of Newham. It caters for children with life-limiting, life-threatening and complex healthcare conditions. To find out more and to vote for your favourite British Olympic moment, visit www.facebook.com/richardhousech
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