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Double strike as Kookaburras score at Australian Sports Awards
03 Mar 2005 08:49

The Kookaburras's Olympic gold medal helped them scoop the pool at the Australian Sports Awards

The Australian Men’s Hockey team, the Kookaburras, won the International Team of the Year, while their coach, Barry Dancer won the Coach of the Year at the 2004 Australian Sports Awards in Sydney last night.

In 2004, the golden Kookaburras became the first Australian Men’s Hockey team to win a gold medal in an Olympic Games. The win at the Athens Olympics broke a 48 year drought after Jamie Dwyer’s penalty corner strike at the end of the first period of extra time delivered the Kookaburras their elusive gold medal with a 2-1 win over the Netherlands.

The team were against quality opposition for the award, with the Women’s 4x100m Medley Relay Team in swimming, and the Australian 4000m Teams Pursuit Team from cycling nominated as finalists.

Kookaburra striker Michael McCann, collecting the award on behalf of the team, acknowledged the dedication and efforts of the team throughout 2004.

“As one of the youngest Australian hockey teams to take part in an Olympics, it is an honour to achieve this recognition. Every single one of the boys put in 110% effort in the build up to the Olympics, and our results during 2004 highlight this,” McCann said.

McCann also thanked the support staff of the team.

“It’s a whole team performance, including the coaching and support staff, and it’s great to see this recognised at these awards. The camaraderie between the entire team has been fantastic and has helped achieve this success,” he said.

The Kookaburras commenced the year by winning the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in January, and continued by winning all tournaments or test series except one in the lead up to the Olympics. During the year, they won 27 out 39 games played, and scored 134 goals, with Jamie Dwyer being top goal scorer for the Kookaburras. Dwyer also achieved the ultimate accolade in hockey, winning the 2004 WorldHockey Player of the Year.

Meanwhile, coach Barry Dancer has led the national team since 2001 and has played an integral role in the success of the team. Nominated along with Hui Tong of Diving and Martin Barras of Cycling, Dancer was honoured to receive the award and acknowledged the talent of his charges.

“Our success has been largely due to the wealth of talent and dedication of our players and support staff, and I am proud to have taken part in this long road to success,” he said.

Dancer thanked the Hockey Australia partners and sponsors, the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association. “This achievement is clearly due to a combination of support from a lot of people who have invested a lot of time, and I thank them for that commitment,” he said.

A former Australian representative who was part of the silver medal winning team in the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games, Dancer commenced his coaching career with the Queensland U21 team in 1986, and subsequently was employed as a Senior Coach in the Australian Institute of Sport in 1990. From 1998 to 2000, Dancer coached the England, and then the Great Britain team, lifting their performance internationally.

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