No rest for the superfit

By TONY WHITE

twhite@dailyexaminer.com.au

AUSTRALIAN men's hockey captain Brent Livermore is back home in Grafton for Christmas after the Kookaburras outstanding win in the prestigious Champions Trophy in India.

While most of us will indulge or over-indulge in the season to be jolly, catching up with family and friends and enjoying festive goodies, as an elite athlete, however, Livermore must continue his rigorous fitness program despite being on 'holidays'.

Such is the dedication of Grafton's favourite hockey son.

Livermore's dedicated attitude, incredible fitness and his fierce determination to continue playing in the top echelon of world hockey, have been the cornerstone to success of Australia's most capped hockey international.

"It's nice to be home with the family and have some time out, we've got a couple of weeks here (Grafton) and at Woolgoolga planned, but I've still got to train," he said yesterday.

"We (the Australian team) go into camp for four days in Melbourne on January 22 and have to be ready for a five-test series against Spain.

"If I don't keep up the hard work it hurts too much to trying to catch up."

Livermore was not only particularly pleased with the Kookaburras dominant performance in India but also his personal form.

"From a team and personal perspective it's been a tremendous year," Livermore said.

"I spoke to Barry (team coach Barry Dancer) after we returned from India and he believed this has been one of my best years. It's been fantastic. He's been very happy with my form and overall contribution to the team.

"I thought I played some of my best hockey ever in the first five matches of the tournament and Barry agreed, which was very pleasing.

"As I'm the veteran, the oldest and most capped player in the team I must continue to constantly look at improving. That's always an athlete's challenge.

"If you sort of stand still you won't stay at the top very long. I still believe I've got a lot to offer the game."

Prior to the Champions Trophy, Livermore was afforded a tremendous honour being selected to captain a world team against Pakistan in a charity benefit match.

"Very pleasing," Livermore said modestly.

The Kookaburras, defending Olympic champions, dominated the Champions Trophy, which in some aspects surprised Livermore.

"I've played in about seven or eight and only won once," Livermore said.

"Looking at the world top teams I didn't think there was going to be much between the top six nations and it looked like being one of the toughest ever tournaments.

"But when it came down to the final straw, we dominated our major counterparts.

"The final (won 3-1 against The Netherlands) was a telling result. We probably could have scored more goals.

"If we hit our straps as we did in India, other teams are really going to be on the receiving end."

Livermore said the team had set a goal of not only retaining the Olympic title in Beijing, but to try and win every major tournament along the way.

"We don't want to be a team that just won the Olympics, but one to be recognised for winning all the major lead up tournaments," he said.

"Our defence has really set the platform. Opposing teams have trouble breaking through the circle and piercing our defence.

"The team is performing consistently at a high level and that has been what we're searching for."



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