By Nick Judd
A number of local hockey players could figure as preparations for London 2012 continue this month.
The Hockey test event takes place at the Riverbank Arena between May 2-6 and there could be up to ten Reading players involved.
GB women’s skipper Kate Walsh and her Reading clubmates Beth Storry, Emily Maguire, Helen Richardson, Laura Bartlett, Sarah Thomas and Alex Danson have all been named in the squad.
Both the women’s and men’s teams are involved in four-team tournaments as they look ahead to the competition proper, which starts with preliminary matches on July 29.
Walsh and her fellow Royals team-mates, who recently won the Investec Women’s League title and at the time of writing may have also progressed in the Euro league, take on world no.2 Argentina, fast-improving China and South Korea, who are ranked eighth in the world.
Danson and Richardson in particular will be among the players to watch, as both were voted into the International Hockey Federation's 2011 World All Stars team. Danson finished the recent domestic season as the league’s top scorer, with 18.
The men face reigning world champions Australia, 2010 World Cup finalists Germany and 2011 Asia Champions Trophy winners India. Reading trio Nick Catlin, Simon Mantell and Iain Mckay are all included in the men’s squad after the Blues’ men finished third in the league.
You can get involved in the sport by joining in with The Big Dribble on May 1. The npower event is encouraging people to pick up a hockey stick for the first time while raising money for national children’s charity WellChild.
It’s free to take part. All you need to do is turn up at the Oracle between 1.15pm and 2.45pm, give the 100m dribbling course a go and sign your good luck message on the giant inflatable hockey ball to wish the GB hockey teams the very best ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Oh, and Congratulations to Reading FC on securing promotion to the Premier League.