Hockey ace Jo is going for gold

JO ELLIS is aiming to become a Golden Girl of English hockey.Four years ago at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Ellis and her England team-mates won the silver medal.

JO ELLIS is aiming to become a Golden Girl of English hockey.

Four years ago at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, Ellis and her England team-mates won the silver medal.

After defeating Australia in the semi-final - one of her all-time favourite moments - England lost 3-2 to India in the final.

The match ended in controversy, the English players and coaches claiming the game had already finished before India scored their third goal.

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Even though Jo was left clutching a silver medal, she said that competing in the Commonwealth Games in her own country was an experience that will take some beating.

“I would always prefer to compete in my own country, and so four years ago in Manchester was perfect for me really.

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“But if I had to choose somewhere else to play I would choose Australia.”

This will be Jo's third trip Down Under. She represented England in the Champions Trophy in Sydney in 2003 when they finished fifth out of the top six teams in the world, and had been a reserve at the World Cup in Perth the year before.

So has the rivalry between England and Australia intensified as a result of last summer's Ashes series between the two countries?

Jo said: “There is a rivalry, but we don't dislike them as much as some other teams. The Dutch are the most arrogant side. That said, if you are playing against a team in their own country, as we may do in Australia, it does bring a different edge to the game.”

England and Australia have been kept apart at the group stage, but could meet in a repeat semi-final clash or, indeed, in the final itself.

England are in Group B along with Barbados, Canada, New Zealand and Scotland while Group A consists of Australia, India, Malaysia, Nigeria and South Africa.

The top two in each group will go forward to play cross-over semi-finals, with the winners then meeting in the final.

Jo said: “New Zealand are probably favourites to win our group as they are the higher-ranked side, and Australia will be favourites to win the other group.

“To win the group we will have to beat New Zealand and we drew with them last summer. We played Australia twice in Argentina last month and drew both games.

“But we will take it game by game. We have not discussed as a squad yet what our targets are, but obviously we will be trying to win a medal, and hopefully go one better and win the gold this time.”

With more than 60 caps to her name Jo's name would appear to be a certainty on the teamsheet for the opening match against Canada on Friday, March 17, but she is not counting her chickens.

“I would be disappointed if I'm not in the side, but at the start of the last Commonwealth Games I had just three caps and I started the first game.

“Rolling substitutions are allowed so we will all get a lot of pitch time whatever happens,” she added.

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