Smith proud despite bronze heartbreak

Richard Smith stands dejected after losing in the bronze medal match
Richard Smith stands dejected after losing in the bronze medal match
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Richard Smith suffered the heartbreak of missing out on a bronze medal and insisted: I’m still proud.

The Widley ace was part of the Team GB men’s hockey team who were beaten 3-1 by Australia in the third-place play-off at the Riverbank Arena on Saturday.

After the 9-2 humiliation at the hands of Holland in the semi-final, it was a performance full of character from the host nation.

However, it was not enough to secure the bronze medal.

And while the defeat was painful to take for former City of Portsmouth player Smith, he is proud of how Team GB have acquitted themselves at London 2012.

‘We played well,’ said the 24-year-old defender.

‘We did what we wanted to do and I’m proud of how we played as a team.

‘We stepped toe-to-toe with Australia, who are the most aggressive team in hockey, and we played a fantastic match.

‘It’s a game of small margins and little things fell for them.

‘We can be very proud of ourselves but it didn’t quite go our way.

‘I’m really proud of how we played as a team.’

Team GB found themselves 1-0 down to the Aussies – ranked number one in the world – after just 17 minutes as Simon Orchard fired a powerful shot past the home side’s goalkeeper James Fair.

But Iain Lewers equalised five minutes before half-time from a well-worked penalty corner after a strong run by teenager Harry Martin.

Ashley Jackson, who has been prolific from penalty corners throughout the tournament, turned provider for Lewers to sweep home.

But Australia regained the lead 14 minutes after the break, as Jamie Dwyer pounced to slot home from Kieran Govers’ deflected penalty corner.

And the win was sealed with 13 minutes to go, with Dwyer and Govers once again involved.

Dwyers’ attempt was parried by Fair into the path of Govers, who slotted home to earn Australia their fourth bronze medal in five Olympic Games.

Skipper Barry Middleton insisted Team GB had given it their all.

He said: ‘For a defeat, this is what you want it to feel like.

‘That you have given your all, gone out there and done it properly.

‘It felt like we did that and couldn’t do any more.

‘They are a brilliant team and thoroughly deserved it on the day.

‘We were close, just little things here and there could have made a difference.

‘It’s pretty gut-wrenching, though.’

Team GB goalscorer Lewers added: ‘We sort of whipped up a bit of a storm for them.

‘We were obviously in a good place to kick on in the second half but it wasn’t meant to be.

‘Australia took their chances in the second half when it came to them and we didn’t, so credit to them.

‘It’s been a rollercoaster.’