Smith’s determined to seize golden opportunity

Richard Smith's team-mate Matt Daly in action against Spain
Richard Smith's team-mate Matt Daly in action against Spain
Katie Spooner is aiming high for City of Portsmouth Ladies. Picture: Keith Woodland

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Richard Smith prepared for tonight’s make-or-break clash with Holland and defiantly stated: It’s time to seize the moment.

The former City of Portsmouth defender steps out at the Riverbank Arena at 8pm knowing victory will take Team GB into the Olympic hockey final, guaranteeing either a gold or silver medal.

It’s a dream scenario for Smith, after the host nation qualified second in group A to reach the last four.

He said: ‘The idea of a semi-final against Holland given to me before the Olympics, to win that game for a gold or silver medal, I would have snapped every hand or leg off to get that.

‘It’s a very exciting prospect. If we get that medal, with the work and the time and things we have done together over the past three years, it will be a pretty special moment.

‘We must start as positively as possible, though.’

With Great Britain enjoying their best Olympics for more than a century and the gold medals rolling in across the sports, Smith is keen to use the momentum as an added weapon.

And the 24-year-old from Widley revealed GB’s water polo girls were firmly in the hockey boys’ corner for the crunch group clash with Spain on Tuesday.

He added: ‘We are living next door to the water polo girls and they had a really tough result in their quarter-final, just losing to Spain.

‘So they really wanted us to do well against Spain and they told us to do it for the team sports. They are really behind us.

‘The individuals and the other sports are doing so well and there is fantastic momentum.’

Great Britain had to overcome a wave of pressure from Spain in the final stages of Tuesday’s epic battle.

But, ultimately, they survived, going through as they clung on for a 1-1 draw.

It was an emotionally-draining experience, leaving Smith with plenty to come to terms with when the final whistle confirmed GB’s semi-final spot.

He said: ‘I had envisaged that moment where we got to the semi-finals being an absolute delight.

‘But for some reason it was shock, disappointment and relief.

‘In this Olympics we have had to quickly put the previous game behind us each time and think about the next one.’

Tonight it’s all on the line again for GB in the battle for a shot at gold.

Holland won all five of their group matches in the other pool – qualifying in first position.

But GB will look for lift off from the immense home support.’

Smith added: ‘You hear the noise and the cheers and sometimes it’s like some sort of spaceship taking off.

‘To win a gold or silver medal in this country will do fantastic things for hockey.

‘I’d love nothing more than that.’