Tim Whiteman is desperate to keep his place in the Great Britain hockey team and fulfil his dream of starring at an Olympic Games.
The former Harleston Magpies player is currently enjoying a deserved break from action after helping Great Britain clinch an impressive third-place finish and bronze medal at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Belgium.
But despite returning home with a medal following an emphatic 5-1 victory over India in the third-place play-off match, Britain’s real success from the tournament is the guarantee of a place in Rio De Janeiro for next year’s Olympic Games after securing their qualification — and the 28-year-old is desperate to be there.
“We were delighted with our performance and to win a medal because that was always our aim going out there,” he said.
“However, securing Olympic qualification is massive and that was our main expectation and objective.
“It was amazing to be part of the squad and with the incentive of the Olympics now there I don’t want to let my place go. There is a bigger impetus now because it has all of a sudden become real.
“My desire to continue being part of the squad is even higher now because the Olympics are not really that far away. It would mean everything to be able to go to Rio.
“I gave up teaching to pursue hockey and the dream has always been to go to an Olympic Games and win a medal.
“From when I was six or seven years old playing with my mates at Harleston Magpies we always joked about playing for Great Britain in the Olympics, and that is what it was all about.
“But now, to have that realisation that we are in the final countdown to Rio is really exciting.”
Reflecting on the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, Whiteman conceded the team were in an unusual position prior to their bronze medal encounter, having already had their Olymnpic qualification confirmed after India had overcome Malaysia ahead of the semi-final stages.
With India having already qualified for Rio 2016, a top three finish in Antwerp created an opening for the six qualification spots for the highest -ranked finishers from the two semi-finals event, a berth taken by Great Britain.
“It was a funny feeling and we had some quiet celebrations,” added Whiteman following the confirmation of their qualification.
“I think we always expected to get there with the players we have but to have it confirmed was a relief for everyone.
“It was just funny to know we had qualified before playing for a medal but it was great to get one of those as well.
He added: “Now the hard work really starts because the Olympics will be here before we know it; it is going to be a very exciting year ahead.”