Hampstead & Westminster's Martin 'honoured' by England call-up
PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 August 2019
Hampstead & Westminster's Harry Martin admitted it was a 'thrill and huge honour' to be selected by England for the EuroHockey Championships in Belgium which start on Friday.
The 26-year-old is a two-time Olympian with no fewer than 215 international caps to his name and will be appearing in his fourth Euros, having won bronze two years ago.
And he is relishing the challenge of trying to help Danny Kerry's 18-strong squad to success in Antwerp, saying: "It's always a thrill and huge honour to be selected.
"I feel confident in what I bring. Hockey is very subjective and different coaches like different combinations. It's not always about the best players, it's how players fit into a team.
"Europe has the strongest continental championships and we've got a really tough group. Wales have got a few familiar faces and it will be funny facing them, but they're a serious team and have really improved as we saw at the Commonwealth Games last year.
"Belgium are the current world champions and Spain are another world-class side on the up. We will embrace it. It's a fantastic set-up in Antwerp and I've heard it's going to be sold out which is really cool."
Martin made his international debut at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and appeared for Great Britain at the Olympics in London two years later.
And he won bronze medals at the 2014 Commonwealths and World League final, before also appearing at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
With such a wealth of experience to draw upon, he is one of the senior players in the squad, despite his young age and added: "It has taken me a while to get out of the mindset of being a younger player and accept my senior role, although I just sneak into the younger group!
"I'm enjoying it more and more. We've got a lot of young players who make the job easy. They're so confident and good on the ball and Will (Calnan) is a perfect example."
Martin feels the men's programme has made good strides under new head coach Danny Kerry, who led the GB women to Olympic gold in 2016.
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And tournament success for England in Belgium would ensure a place for the GB men at the 2020 Tokyo Games, but Martin says that is not their primary concern going into the event.
"Danny wants you to pick up new skills and sets very high standards. We've really embraced it. There has been a lot of change, which was needed, and it's a very different style.
"I've learnt a lot this last year and it's really good for me to develop my game. Hopefully we can deliver. We have improved as a team.
"We haven't talked about the Olympics as a goal for the tournament but we know the situation. There is another opportunity to qualify in October with our improved ranking.
"I'd be lying if I said the goal wasn't to win it. We won bronze in 2017 and to better that this time would be a result."
After helping Hampstead & Westminster to win the Men's Hockey League Finals for the first time in their 125-year history in April, Martin had a busy summer on GB duty in the FIH Pro League.
But he managed to get some rest last month, albeit not on his own terms, adding: "I picked up a concussion in the Pro League semi-final and was a bit out of it for two to three weeks.
"It gave me a break, as I didn't do anything in that time until the symptoms died down.
"It has been a long year, hockey is all year round, but I've adjusted to it. Tournament hockey is so exciting and you soon forget any fatigue and focus on what you have to do."
With less than a year to go until the Tokyo Olympics, Martin admits that winning a medal on the biggest stage remains the career aim.
But he is not taking anything for granted, with competition for places so fierce, adding: "I try not to think too much about the future and focus on living in the moment.
"It's a motivation for sure but I'm not too worried. I trust in what we're doing as a team and look to improve myself.
"An Olympic medal is the ultimate goal. My first one, I was only 19 and just happy to be there. Now I'm older and more experienced, if you go you're going for a reason, to win a medal. But there's a lot of hockey to be played yet."