England's Harry Martin has high hopes for EuroHockey 2013

Harry Martin England story World League Malaysia

With the London Olympics now a glorious memory, everyone’s attention is turning to the EuroHockey Championships and the many upcoming international tournaments England will face on the road to Rio. It’s all change in the England men’s camp and Harry Martin, the youngest member of Team GB’s 2012 hockey squad, reflects on the upheaval and his ever-growing responsibility within the team.

England's first big tournament, in a series of many before the 2016 Olympics, is the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships currently underway in Belgium, a tournament that Martin believes comes at a good time for the team. “Obviously we’ve been really excited about the EuroHockey Championships. Because we’re such a new team there’s only really one way we can go – as long as we keep improving and getting stronger. We’ll be looking to do as well as we can and maybe challenge for those semi-final and final spots.”

The Ipswich-born youngster is clear that they won’t be there simply to make up the numbers, despite England’s rebuilding process: “I think there are enough of us in the squad who have been around a few years for us to want medals. We’ve been making semi-finals in the last year so we’re going out to win medals and make finals. We’re not just about pulling off the odd surprise, we want to build a team that can win tournaments.”

The challenge at the EuroHockey Championships comes not only from the likes of Germany an the Netherlands but also from teams such as tournament hosts, Belgium: “Belgium were looking really strong in the World Hockey League. They have pretty much the same team they had in the Olympics – lots of young, talented guys – so I think they’re going to be a team to look out for.”

Martin is a man that knows a thing or two about being young and talented. After last year’s Olympics he found himself one of five players nominated for the FIH Young Player of the Year. It has been that kind of trajectory for Martin; from the new boy in the England squad to FIH Young Player of the Year nominee to something of an experienced campaigner.

Rewind a year, however, and Harry Martin was not looking quite so optimistic. Martin was trudging away from the Riverbank Arena a dispirited man after the Olympic semi-final against the Netherlands hadn’t exactly gone to plan and England's dreams of a gold medal had vanished.

“It was the most incredible experience of my life by a long way, but it’s a shame it is really tinged by how we finished,” he explains. “Initially I thought ‘Wow, I’m going to the Olympics’ but we all believed we could medal and that’s what we wanted. It’s been tough, even as recently as a few months ago I was still thinking about it. You keep thinking to yourself: What if? Why didn’t we turn up in the semi? We were so close.”

But those questions of ‘what if’ have been replaced by new questions and new challenges as the midfielder and his England colleagues look to build a side that can pose a threat in Brazil in three years’ time.

Having achieved a bronze medal in the recent World League Semi Finals in Malaysia, England are going from strength to strength in their international performances. The EuroHockey Championships will be essential experience for the side before the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, as well as providing the new squad another chance at a medal-winning finish.

With a 5-2 win over Poland in the opening game, England’s next match is today at 19:00 (UK time) against the Netherlands. The TriFinance EuroHockey Championships are being shown LIVE on the BBC Red Button, online and on iplayer.

For more information about the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships please visit the official website.