Pride And Excitement For Awesome Welsh Foursome As Jacob Draper, Rupert Shipperley, Gareth Furlong And Sarah Jones Get GB Olympic Call

Jacob Draper hockey. Pic: Getty Images

Pride And Excitement For Awesome Welsh Foursome As Jacob Draper, Rupert Shipperley, Gareth Furlong And Sarah Jones Get GB Olympic Call


By Hannah Blackwell

Jacob Draper has spoken of his pride after being one of four Welsh players selected across the two Great Britain squads for this summer’s Olympic Games.

Draper and Rupert Shipperley will head towards a second successive Games after being part of the GB men’s squad that finished sixth in Tokyo four years ago.

The pair will be joined by Gareth Furlong, who will make his Olympic debut in Paris.

The GB women’s squad will include Wales star Sarah Jones, who helped Great Britain win a bronze medal in Japan, alongside the now internationally retired Leah Wilkinson.

Four of the GB women’s squad were gold medallists in 2016.

Laura Roper, who also has two bronze medals from London and Tokyo, will make her fourth appearance at the age of 36 while captain Hollie Pearne-Webb, Lily Owsley and Giselle Ansley have all been selected for a third Games.

Six other players – including Jones – also have previous Olympic experience, while there are six debutants, including Tess Howard, who missed out in 2021 with a serious knee injury.

In the men’s squad, Furlong’s selection comes just a fortnight after he won his first GB caps at the FIH London Pro League, where he scored four goals in seven matches.

The 32-year-old only joined the GB centralised programme in February, following 148 caps for Wales and 99 goals scored for his country and his selection is testament to his perseverance and commitment to the sport.

Draper captained the GB side for the first time in that Pro League series and also won his 50th GB cap.

“It’s a huge honour and something which means a lot to me and everyone who has supported me thus far,” said Draper.

“It’s always great to play in front of a home crowd (at the FIH London Pro League) and I’m really pleased with the quality performances we displayed and we definitely gained momentum ahead of an exciting summer.”

Britain’s men have not won an Olympic medal since taking gold in 1988 and their squad features a mix of youth and experience.

Captain David Ames and Sam Ward are both heading to a third Games, while Draper, Shipperley, Phil Roper, Ollie Payne, Jack Waller and Liam Sanford have been selected for their second Games.

The seven debutants include 20-year-old defender Conor Williamson, who only made his England bow in August.

Great Britain’s men will open the Olympic hockey campaign when they face Spain on July 27, with the women following on the 28th against the Spanish women.

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Women’s head coach David Ralph said: “The GB women’s squad has a long history at the Olympic Games, and we now have the opportunity to create our own history.

“This is our moment and our chance to create memories for life.

“To the whole squad, I want to recognise their hard work and dedication that they’ve shown for the whole cycle.

“They have all played and will continue to play a really important role in terms of making sure the selected squad go into the Games in the best position possible.”

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