#MotivationMonday – Have you been inspired by Rio? Our President, Marijke Fleuren shared with us her best moments from Rio. 

She said the Olympic Games in Rio proved a superb advertisement for the world game with new faces emerging on the highest stage after a thrilling two weeks of action.

Speaking about the event, Fleuren – who is also a member of the FIH’s executive board – said: “I have not watched the Olympic Games only from a European perspective. It’s a such a world event so I was very interested in all results and all the teams.

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Marijke spotted on NOS, as she prepares to present to the medalists 

“I feel direct interest in the European teams who I oversee in my role [as EHF President] and watched as many of their matches as possible to see if they are going well. But I always feel that it is important that the other continents also perform because this will help hockey to stay Olympic in the future.”

From an EHF perspective, there were many success stories, not least that 25-year-old umpire Laurine Delforge from Belgium conducted the final in what were her first Olympic Games.

She was among a number of Umpire Development Programme products who were appointed to the Games following mentoring through an EHF initiative with Scotland’s Sarah Wilson and Poland’s Marcin Grochal also excelling in the competition.

“I think it is fantastic that Laurine did the final and Sarah [Wilson] did the third place match,” Fleuren reflected on their involvement. “For them, there will be a big future ahead and this is the start of that experience.

“Of course, I am happy that they are some of the fruits of our UDP programme so they have shown the programme is working and their mentors are very valuable. It’s the same for all the officials, they also have taken some of our education which is immensely important in what they are doing.”

Looking specifically at the teams and moments that caught her eye, Fleuren said that each side had special stories in them to be competing on this stage.

For Ireland’s men, it was their first appearance at the Olympics since 1908; for GB’s women, it was a first gold medal; for Belgium’s men it was a first medal since 1920; and for Argentina, it was a first ever men’s title.

“I very much enjoyed the performance of the Green Machine. I followed the Irish team from the European youth championships in 2002 in Rotterdam when they became champions.

“I will never forget that moment especially because of the national anthem – the most lovely one I know. I remember all the parents singing it there [in 2002] and it was a moment of awakening, thinking it lovely if Irish would rise in future. I saw them really coming up and that’s the reason they were here in Rio.

“I wish them all the best to make the next step and I think the competition change in Ireland [to a national league] will help them to do that.

“The Great Britain women; I have seen them through the years and know them well, performing on and off the pitch always as a team. The way they performed in Rio was great, especially when they beat the United States in the pool. This was an important moment.

“When the shoot-out came [as a Dutch person], I started to be afraid because I know Maddie Hinch and how prepared they were. That they won was fantastic for world hockey and for Great Britain and Danny Kerry.

“I read about his Thinking Thursday and I think this is a really strong thing which will stay for me. Hockey is not only about being in the match; it’s all the things around it and the thinking.”

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The fantastic pitch in Rio 

Among other highlights, Fleuren said Naomi van As’s performance in the women’s final was a joy to behold while the Dutch men’s dismantling of Australia was one of the performances of the tournament.

Both Spain’s men and women performed above expectation, too, the former pushing hard for a semi-final spot, the latter making it to the knock-out stages despite being the lowest ranked nation in the competition.

She also wanted to thank Moritz Fuerste for his incredible contribution to our sport, retiring from the international scene after two Olympic gold medals and this year’s bronze.

“Belgium’s men had an astonishing performance, not only against Holland but also early on in the group. Only in the final did it go against them.

“Argentina, as the men’s winner! Unbelievable. It was fantastic to see their crowds and for the world of hockey. That’s the start  of the revolution, to stop thinking in continents, it’s about thinking in hockey.

“For Germany and the Netherlands, it was not easy to take a step down – the men more than the women – but for hockey it is fantastic and I am sure this is a reason for them to do everything to come back.”

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The Medal Presenters! 

Photograph:Laurine Delforge collects the match ball for the Women’s final (Credit – Deo Avalos (c))