Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aussie youth up for challenge

With 2012 just around the corner the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics will showcase the worlds best talents, with nations such as Canada, USA, Finland, Sweden & Russia all qualifying for the games, Australia has put their hand up to be another nation to compete in Innsbruck, Austria. But, not as an competing hockey team, but rather as individuals. 

The International Olympic Committee has recently introduced a new skills based challenge, where fifteen athletes per gender will be selected based on numerous skill tests which include speed, shooting accuracy & agility. Once the first stage of qualifications are done by each nation, the two winners will then move into stage two, where they travel to Finland in hope of securing a spot at the Olympics when they compete in the Global Skills Challenge held at the Hockey Development Camp Vierumaki, Finland.

With stage one complete, Australia's two winners who will be traveling to Finland are Sharnita Crompton (17) and Sam Hodic (14). Both who will be looking to not only give Australia a chance to be apart of the ice hockey at Olympic level, but also hoping to show off some of the skills in what will no doubt have scouts & other interested observers looking on.

Crompton who is well known throughout the Australian hockey scene, is once again relishing the chance to show the world what this young Aussie is all about. Having represented Australia already at national level, the occasion is one Crompton is definitely ready for. 

First hitting the ice at age twelve, Crompton has gone from strength to strength, from development camps to national duties, getting selected to represent Australia in Austria would be another thing on the list of achievements for this young hockey star. 
“I’m very aggressive and want to be first to the puck. My speed and setting up other players has always been pretty good. For Finland I’ve been training really hard and focusing on my accuracy in the net. Mum keeps stats of my shots on goals.”

“To place in the top 15 girls and get selected for the Youth Olympics would be amazing!”
Hodic who is a member of the Melbourne Ice development squad, has been in the national system for some time. Getting his first taste of ice hockey at the age of seven, Hodic has been making loud noises throughout his early hockey career & can't wait to hit the ice in Finland. 
“It is an unreal opportunity and I really can’t wait - it’s going to be amazing,” Hodic said. 

“I’m expecting a really fast pace with freakish and fantastic hockey.” 

With so many young prospects across the world gathering to compete in Finland, it's going to be a grueling test for the youngsters. But they not only have the backing from the entire country, but full support from Ice Hockey Australia President Don Rurak, who has no doubt that both young stars will be able to delivery on the big stage. 

“I think they have a very good chance. It is hard to know the standard of the competing nations but the Australian players are top quality,” Rurak said.

With the recent success of the Australian national team who are competing in Division 2, both Hodic & Crompton will be looking to continue the quest to have Australia not only recognised at international hockey meets, but respected as a nation who can produce top ranking hockey talent.

The game has come a long way in recent years, and if we can get two genuine hockey talents in the top fifteen, it will be a big boost to not only the two players themselves, but the rest of the hockey talent who are competing throughout Australia.

By Andrew Macdougall

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