Jo's joy as Beijing is step closer

IPSWICH hockey star Jo Ellis has spoken of her joy at taking a giant step closer to her dream of playing at an Olympics following qualification to next year's games in Beijing.

IPSWICH hockey star Jo Ellis has spoken of her joy at taking a giant step closer to her dream of playing at an Olympics following qualification to next year's games in Beijing.

Great Britain's women did not qualify for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, but confirmed their return via a third place finish in the EuroHockey Nations Championship in Manchester last weekend.

Playing for an England side representing Great Britain in qualification, Ellis and her team mates narrowly lost 2-1 in the semi-finals to eventual winners Germany.

Olympic qualification was eventually secured through a bronze medal match against third seeds Spain, fourth seeded England going 3-0 up before holding on in a tense finale to win 3-2.

Ellis, a youth product of Ipswich Hockey Club, said: “It would have been nice to have made the final, but Olympic qualification was always the major focus.

“The end of the Spain game was a bit nerve racking, but I think when you are on the pitch it is not as bad as when you are off it.

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“It was disappointing to have let them back into the game, but we kept our heads to secure the win.

“The crowd in Manchester were absolutely fantastic, we could not have wished for anything more.”

In the earlier stages, England also narrowly lost to the favourites Holland by a score of 3-2. Ellis said: “We always have tight results against Holland and that's good, but we've got to start beating those sort of teams rather than just getting close now.”

Reflecting on her possible involvement at the Olympics next year, Ellis said: “It has always been my dream and main motivation to get to an Olympic Games. They are one of the biggest sporting events in the world so to be involved would be the ultimate.

“There's always room for development and I'm certainly not the type of person who will sit down and relax because I have to make sure I have got the best possible chance of being in that team.”

Ellis is now unlikely to feature much for Ipswich next season due to a packed schedule of international fixtures, including a tournament in Argentina in November, as Great Britain prepare for the Olympics.

Ellis said: “Qualification at this stage means a massive amount of pressure has been lifted. It doesn't mean we can relax, but it just means that in the up-and-coming tournaments there won't be that edge.”

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