Great Britain star Dan Fox is a defensive rock who provides a calm composure for his team. For the 33-year-old, the Hockey Champions Trophy provides an ideal opportunity to prepare for the Olympics but, as he says, winning the Hockey Champions Trophy for the first time, in front of a passionate home crowd would be a real boost for the team before they jet off to Rio.
"We're excited. It's the first Champions Trophy any of us have played on home soil and it is a tournament that we want to win for the first time. Playing at home gives us the benefit of a home crowd. It gives friends, family and supporters the chance to watch us live and it's a great opportunity to prepare for Rio."
Great Britain's preparations have been going well. Following the Hero Hockey World League Final in Raipur, India last year – where Great Britain finished sixth – the team went through six tough weeks of physical development. Since then it has all been about focusing on how they play as a team.
Some of the squad missed the early training stages as they participated in the Hockey India League, but since then, the intensity of squad training and preparation has been incredibly high. Fox has a steely look in his eye as he warns: "This is the fittest Great Britain hockey team ever and we want to make it the best as well."
Fox has more than 145 combined caps for England and Great Britain but the medal cupboard is relatively bare – a bronze 2014 Commonwealth Games medal and a silver 2010 Hockey Champions Trophy medal payback for all those caps.
Fox and his team-mates would dearly love 2016 to be the year that changes. "Everything we do this year is part of our Rio preparation," he says. "That said, the Champions Trophy is a major trophy and we will be trying full out to win it. The tight turn around between games is also great preparation for the tough schedule in Rio, so it will be good practice."
The thing that stands out among all the players from different countries competing in the Champions Trophy is the high level of respect each team has for another. This is borne of the players knowing each other from the Hockey India League, the European Leagues and the numerous international occasions on which they meet.
“Australia are the number one side but anyone in the top six can win at the moment,” says Fox. “There are some brilliant teams out there.”
The next few months may well prove to be the defining moments of Dan Fox’s sporting career and it all begins on the opening day of the Hockey Champions Trophy, when Great Britain take to the field against their old nemesis Australia.
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