Great Britain women's hopes of an Olympic medal took a major setback on the opening day of the hockey tournament in Atlanta Saturday when they were beaten 5-0 by South Korea on a day when both defending Olympic champions were also beaten in their opening games, writes Bill Colwill in Atlanta.
Britain's day of woe started encouragingly as they more than held their own in the opening exchanges. Indeed, had Jane Sixsmith, the two-goal heroine of Britain's 4-3 bronze medal win in extra time over the Asians in Barcelona, not squandered two early chances, another victory might have been possible.
As it was, South Korea lifted the pace of the game and with swift counter attacks pushed Britain back on to the defence and it was only a matter of time before the goals came as Britain conceded a series of penalty corners. Eun Jung Cho scored the first of her two goals in the 25th minute from South Korea's fourth corner.
After the opening goal, South Korea gave an impressive performance as they pinned Britain into their own half. A series of fine saves by Hilary Rose in goal and desperate tackling by Kath Johnson and Karen Brown saved Britain from complete disaster.
Early in the second half, Soo Hyun Kwon took on the British defence for Moon Hee Choi to get the final touch in a scramble for their second goal with the British defence in confusion. Penalty corner goals from Chang Sook Kwon, Soo Hyun Kwon and Cho's second cemented South Korea's victory.
The British coach, Sue Slocombe, admitted that it was a body blow to concede five goals: "They hit us in a very special fashion."
Australia, with four goals from open play by four different strikers, showed their class against defending champions Spain, going on to win 4-0. The World Champions were in splendid form with a display of free flowing, attacking hockey.
Once Michelle Andrews had given them the lead in the 32nd minute, there was only one team in it as Spain reeled from a series of sparkling Aussie attacks. Lisa Powell added the second and then with five minutes remaining a particularly spectacular goal came from captain Rechelle Hawkes deflecting Jackie Pereira's hard cross into the roof of the net.
Alyson Annan completed the scoring with a cracking shot from the narrowest of angles past goalkeeper Marivi Gonzalez.
Earlier, the Dutch had drawn 1-1 with the USA and Germany defeated Argentina 2-0.
GREAT BRITAIN: H Rose (Sutton Canada Life); J Atkins Capt. (Bradford Swithenbank; S Fraser (Bonagrass Grove); K Brown (Slough); K Johnson (Balsam Leicester); P Robertson (Edinburgh); M Davies (Sutton Canada Life); T Miller (Clifton); J Sixsmith (Sutton Canada Life); R Simpson (Edinburgh); M Nicholls (Slough). Substitutes used: C Cook (Hightown); J Mould (Balsam Leicester); A Bennett (Slough).
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