Three University of Birmingham Sport students have helped the GB Youth Hockey team win gold at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.
GB came away triumphant after beating hosts Australia 3-2 thanks to a golden goal by Psychology student Sophie Bray. Sociology undergraduate Sarah Page also scored during the dramatic deciding match.
It was a welcome déjà vu for Page and team-mate Susie Gilbert, who both returned to Australia hoping to defend their title having been part of the under 21 team who won the title at the last tournament held in 2007.
All three first year students made their senior England debuts at an invitational test match against Germany back in October. Geography student Gilbert meanwhile, already had 12 senior GB caps under her belt after being selected to be part of the Beijing Olympic Training squad. Narrowly missing out on selection for the actual games, she still travelled to Beijing as part of the 2012 Olympic Ambition Programme.
Preparation for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival saw the team complete a demanding domestic training schedule as well as a training camp in Spain. The team then faced an additional two week acclimatisation camp after arriving at the Hockey Centre at the Olympic Sydney Village on January 3rd.
In addition to temperatures reaching over 30 degrees centigrade, the girls also had two brand new pitches to contend with meaning many players were facing many new challenges.
The preparation however paid off, and GB won their opening Pool match 3-1 against India with help from a goal by Bray.
The second match saw temperatures reach 40 degrees in the pitch side shade, but that didn't stop Sophie finding herself on the score sheet yet again helping the team to a 4-1 win over the USA, securing their spot in the gold medal play-off.
At this stage in the tournament GB were tied across the board with hosts Australia, meaning both teams had already done enough to guarantee they'd meet each other in the final. The 4-2 defeat by Australia in their third and final Pool match therefore caused no problems for GB who were saving themselves for their title defending game the next day.
The Sunday final subsequently unfolded dramatically with the first half concluding with GB 1-0 down.
Nevertheless, Birmingham's Sarah Page gave the team a glimmer of hope with an equalising goal in the 68th minute, only to have Australia take the lead again in the dying minutes of the match.
The last 60 seconds of the game saw GB equalise again forcing the match into extra-time. It was then Sophie Bray who became GB's hero when she scored the golden goal in the 77th minute, leaving GB to collect their second lot of gold medals in as many tournaments.
Notes to Editors:
Lucy Hood - PR, Media and Promotions Officer, University Sport Birmingham
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