Laurence Bowden believes he will emerge a better player after leading England Red to silver in the boy’s hockey at the Sainsbury’s School Games.
Bowden, who is a Havant Hockey Club member, was in impressive form throughout the competition.
More than 1,600 talented school children descended on Manchester to compete in 12 sports across four action-packed days.
And hockey was one of the star attractions at the Armitage Site with Bowden, from Petersfield, captaining England Red.
He helped his team to a 7-0 victory in their opening game against England Blue, while they also beat Scotland 3-1 and Wales 4-1 to reach the final.
But they fell at the final hurdle to England White, going down 2-1.
And Bowden admitted his side had failed to reach their previous heights when it mattered most.
He said: ‘In our first three games we played really well, so took lots of positives from that.
‘But in the final I just don’t think we got it right and England White played really well.
‘At the beginning of the Sainsbury’s School Games we were aiming for gold, but obviously silver is a really good achievement, considering the great standard of play. I guess we are pretty happy.
‘We need to take positives from the defeat so that we can move on and take our performance into other events.
‘It’s my first Sainsbury’s School Games and it’s also the first for most of the team and we have found the whole experience really good.
‘With it being a multi-sport event, none of the team have ever experienced anything like this before but hopefully we can go to many more games like this and it gives us a nice taste of what could be to come in the future.’
The Sainsbury’s School Games has helped to launch the careers of many British athletes, including heptathlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds, who were watching the next generation of British stars coming through.
And having represented England under-16s last year, Bowden has set his sights on being part of the next generation of Sainsbury’s School Games alumni to compete at the highest level.
‘All hockey players want to get to the top of the game, so I have got to dream of the Olympics and other major events,’ he added.
‘Obviously it is going to be hard work, so I will need to give it all I have got.
‘Rio would be tricky to get to, with it only being two years away, but you have got to set your expectations high, so maybe there’s an outside chance for Rio.
‘Tokyo is definitely something that I am working towards and is one of my ambitions.’
n The Sainsbury’s 2014 School Games, which is supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, was held in venues across Manchester from 4-7 September 2014. Visit the website 2014schoolgames.com for more information.