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Steve Batchelor: 'My son scored more goals in his first season than I did in my whole career'

ESPN staff
March 11, 2010
Steve Batchelor © Getty Images

In front of 12,000 people in Seoul's Songnam Stadium, Great Britain's men's hockey team rewrote the history books to win Britain's first Olympic hockey gold medal in 80 years.

Britain had not beaten Germany in 30 years and had already lost to them in the group stages, but Steve Batchelor's cross from the right wing set up Imran Sherwani for his second goal and Britain's third to seal a historic 3-1 victory.

A three-time Olympian, Batchelor is the proud owner of two Olympic medals, but things were nearly very different. After making his England debut in 1980, Batchelor, also a talented tennis player, had virtually given up on his hockey career and had returned to the tennis circuit when he received an unexpected call-up.

"My first love was always tennis," he said. "After making my England debut at the age of 18 I went back to the tennis circuit and had given up hockey, but in 1983 the manager phoned me personally and asked me to come back and train with the team."

From being ranked 13th in the world, the British team went on to win an astonishing bronze medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics before going on to win a silver medal at the World Championships in 1986. After a silver medal at the European Championships 1987 they went one better to be crowned Olympic champions.

"I was very lucky," admitted Batchelor. "I got a second chance and ended up winning two Olympic medals. Winning a medal is special, but it is just as much about the whole experience of being there and I feel very lucky to have been a part of three Olympic Games. The atmosphere in the Olympic village is incredible."

Batchelor retired from international hockey in 1992 after the Barcelona Olympics, although he admitted that the circumstances surrounding his retirement were beyond his control.

"Sean [Kerly] announced his retirement after Barcelona, and the press decided that my time was up, too - they reported that we had both retired together," he said. "To be honest I don't think I could have gone on much longer, and we started our international careers together, so it was fitting that we both finished together too."

Winning a medal is special, but it is just as much about the whole experience of being at the Olympics

Batchelor, who owned his own company, coaching hockey and tennis throughout his hockey career, started Exsportise with East Grinstead team-mate Bram van Asselt, specialising in summer camps for school children. He was then invited to take up a coaching role at Cranleigh School in Surrey. Although he still coaches, he has since moved into an administrative role, with responsibility for admissions.

"It is full on but it's a great job and I really enjoy it," he said. "I feel very lucky. My kids absolutely love it here."

Batchelor's eldest son, Tom, represents England at Under-18 level, but he insists he never pushed his children into playing hockey.

"There will always be pressure on some of these kids that have successful sporting parents," he said. "But I have never pushed my kids. My son just loves playing hockey - at club level or international it doesn't matter.

"He reminds me a lot of myself on the hockey pitch. He's got the desire to play at the top level, and that's something you can't teach. He scored more goals in his first season than I did in my whole career!"

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