Sport Focus - Q&A With Hockey's Gavin Byers

February 6, 2018

After fantastic results for Scotland at both World League and European Championships in 2017, Hockey player Gavin Byers will be hoping to make his Commonwealth Games debut for Team Scotland at Gold Coast 2018. With the team set to be announced shortly, we caught up with Gavin for a look back at a successful summer and a look ahead to the prospect of playing hosts Australia on their home soil:

The Scottish Men’s team were on form in 2017, what were your personal highlights?

2017 was a fantastic year for the men’s team – possibly the most successful we’ve ever had. Finishing 3rd at World League 2, three places above our ranking was a brilliant start to the year and really set the tone for the coming months. We progressed on to World League 3 where we finished 10th, but considering we were up against some of the best teams in the world we really gave a great account of ourselves and showed the rest of the world what we were all about and that we could compete and challenge at that high level.

This set us up perfectly for the European Championships in Glasgow. Five wins from five resulted in a gold medal and promotion to the Elite division in 2019. That was definitely the highlight of 2017, celebrating with the boys after a tough week with a gold medal around our necks!

Another highlight would have to be the efforts of our friends, families and fans that helped raise nearly £20,000 through Crowdfunding which enabled us to prepare and perform throughout the year. All this would not have been possible without the generosity of all those who donated. It was truly heart-warming to see the Hockey community come together and help us in our quest for a gold medal.

How has the team’s performance been so far in 2018 ?

We did get off to a flyer at the Indoor Euros in Cyprus, but ultimately we didn’t hit our objective which was to finish in the top two in order to gain promotion to the higher division next time round.

Leading the team as captain was a great honour and I am very proud of all the players who put in tremendous effort throughout the tournament. We returned with a feeling of great disappointment, but also determination to pick ourselves up and keep going.

Team Scotland have never won a Commonwealth Games medal in a team sport, how would you rate the team’s chances at Gold Coast 2018?

Whenever we go into a tournament, we are always full of optimism and of course we want to win – but, in reality, this will be one of the most challenging tournaments we have ever faced. We are ranked 9th out of 10 and face Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada who are all ranked much higher than us in the World Rankings.

To make the semi-finals would be an outstanding achievement. Every game will be extremely tough, but after 2017 the team are on a high and we must take advantage of this feeling and approach every game with no fear. 2017 has taught us that we can compete with any team and win crucial games. If we can carry that into 2018, who knows what we can achieve.

What about the prospect of playing the host nation in the group stages at Gold Coast 2018?

Every game will be tough, but Australia are the world number one so this will undoubtedly be the toughest game. Playing them in front of their home crowd will be a memorable moment but one that the team relishes. The team knows just how much a home crowd can help during a game (as we found out in Glasgow 2014 and last year at the Europeans) so the Australians will be looking to put on a show. We’ll be ready for that challenge and will look to silence the home support this time round…

The Gold Coast 2018 Hockey competition runs from 5-14 April, with Scotland set to name both men’s and women’s teams later this month.

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