England star Henry Weir says being crowned European champions will serve as the perfect platform for Olympic success.
The 25-year-old Wimbledon Hockey Club ace has been named as part of Bobby Crutchley’s 18-strong England men’s squad that will go for gold at next week’s Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 at London’s Olympic Park.
With qualification for Rio already secured for Great Britain the pressure is off for England to take gold from the competition.
However Weir says the squad will still be looking to play without fear as they bid to claim the title for the first time since 2009.
“The Europeans was my first big tournament in the squad and we got to the semi finals and missed out on a medal to the Dutch,” he said.
“From where we were then to where we are now it’s an absolutely huge difference and we now have experienced players who are well capped and know what it takes.
“Having the Rio place and knowing we still have that goal to look forward to makes a big difference and we can really go at this tournament with aggression and have a go.
“From here on out it is about winning, teams go through developmental periods and performance is important but winning is the aim and want medals from here to Rio.”
Weir has established himself as a mainstay in the England squad and was part of the team that took bronze in last summer’s Commonwealth Games.
And he is expecting a similar atmosphere next week that can help propel his side to gold.
“I’m really excited – this is my first really big tournament at home so it should be great with the crowd and the possibility of doing really well at this tournament,” he added.
“I didn’t manage to come to the Olympics but I watched it on TV and the atmosphere seemed amazing, especially at the hockey with sell-out crowds.
“I am hoping this place will replicate that and I hope it feeds into the way we play.
“The Commonwealths was almost a home crowd and we felt like everyone was behind us.
“It was really inspiring and we will be going for medals here so hopefully it will all come together.
“We are in a fantastic place at the moment and it feels like we are improving every month almost.
“From when we came together almost two and a half years ago our development has been really good.”
The Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015, featuring both England’s men’s and women’s teams, takes place between August 21-30 at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Tickets available at www.eurohockey2015.co.uk