Hockey: Former Olympian predicts medal glory for Glenn's men
FORMER England hockey international and three-time Olympian Simon Mason believes Glenn Kirkham should be part of a medal-winning London 2012 campaign this summer.
Mason knows all about what it takes to conquer the Olympic stage having appeared at the Games in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens before retiring in 2005.
The 38-year-old is now well placed to comment on the state of the men's squad in his role as president of the England Hockey Board – and he certainly likes what he sees.
And, with the likes of Kirkham leading the way, Mason believes the British squad have got the perfect blend of youth and experience required to conquer the world's best in London.
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"The success of the men's teams is absolutely fantastic at the minute," said Mason. "To be ranked fourth in the world is great.
"I really think they stand a really good chance of getting on the podium. To be on the podium is the goal for them and I think they are definitely capable of achieving it.
"The strength of world hockey now compared to when I used to play is big. Back then there were seven or eight teams who were by far and away the best teams.
"Now there is a top 20 where anyone can beat anyone so it will be hard. Australia are a dominant force in the men's game but I am confident the men's team can do well."
Despite Mason's confidence in the British men's medal potential it is the women's squad who have been stealing the headlines of late.
Earlier this year they claimed their best-ever global international result with silver at the Champions Trophy in Rosario, Argentina.
But, despite playing second fiddle in recent months, Mason is confident Kirkham and co have the firepower in their squad to certainly share the limelight in London.
"The women's team are certainly in form at the moment which is fantastic news for them and for the London 2012 Olympics," he added. "But I am confident the men will do well because they have got some fantastic players in their squad.
"They have got the players like Ashley Jackson, Glenn Kirkham and Barry Middleton who can help them have a great tournament."
Simon Mason was speaking at the London North leg of the 'nearest & dearest' roadshow in partnership with P&G – supporting family and friends of all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes in the lead up to London 2012. For details, visit www.pgproudsponsorofmums.co.uk