Two goals & a baby
By NEIL BROWN
FOR Brent Livermore, life does not get much better than this.
The Australian hockey team captain, aptly nicknamed 'Chief', led his warriors into battle in yesterday's semi-final against Malaysia and scored the crucial opening two goals to set the Kookaburras on the path to a 6-0 victory and a spot in tomorrow's Commonwealth Games gold medal play-off match.
Livermore already holds a special place in hockey's history books being the only Kookaburra to feature at all three Commonwealth Games at which hockey has been part of the program. He won gold in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 and again in Manchester four years ago.
But as they say, hockey is just a game, and at times you need a reality check to put everything in perspective.
He certainly got that yesterday.
While some could have mistaken the sparkle in his eyes as being for his hockey 'family' ? his team-mates ? only those close to him knew the reason for the extra spring in his step was for his real family. Livermore's wife, Belinda, gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Zoe, yesterday morning on the Gold Coast.
Livermore spoke to Belinda from Melbourne at 7am yesterday as she went into labour, two days earlier than expected.
She had the baby not long after.
"Everything is well at home, I got a couple of goals and I'm playing in my third Commonwealth Games final, and going for my third gold medal," Livermore said.
"There's not going to be much to stop me from running on Sunday.
"Like today, I was just floating and I didn't want to stop."
But Livermore said the happy occasion had provided him with another challenge.
"It was really exciting today, but it was a challenge for me personally to control the distractions and the different pressure that come from that, the news from home and then coming into the semi-final and taking the penalty strokes.
"I was happy with the outcomes of all that and now I have to let it happen on Sunday."
Livermore was excused from the team village yesterday afternoon to return to the Gold Coast to be with his family and will return today.
But his work here, for the time, is done.
On the form shown by the Aussies at the Games they will go into tomorrow's gold medal decider against Pakistan as distinct favourites to continue their domination of this tournament.
No team has seriously challenged the Aussies in Melbourne, who have smacked 26 goals while conceding just five.
The Kookaburras' demolition of Malaysia yesterday was as predictable as it was impressive.
The Asians were expected to throw everyone behind the ball in a defensive wall and then rely on quick counter-attacks from two strike forwards.
The theory may have been admirable, but the reality was that they rarely threatened Australia.
The Kookaburras' patience was rewarded just minutes before half-time and after the resumption the floodgates opened.
Pakistan has been a bit of a bogey team for Australia during the last 12 months.
In four matches, Australia has won once and drawn twice.
Livermore played down suggestions of tensions between Pakistan and Australia recently, adamant that would not be revisited tomorrow.