Hockey girls gear up for Olympics

Linda Moreotsene

Linda Moreotsene

Jenny King, the coach of The South African women's hockey team, has expressed relief at booking a place at the 2009 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Proteas earned the right to represent the country at the Games by winning the final against Kenya 5-0 on Sunday in Nairobi.

King, however, took into account the standard of hockey the opposition dished out at the Africa Olympic qualifiers, and acknowledged the momentous task ahead of her and the girls.

"We managed to win all our games and did not concede any goals throughout the tournament. In the final we were already 4-0 in the first half of the game, which made it easier for us later when the heat became unbearable," King said.

The team faces a different obstacle next week in Beijing when they participate in a friendly tournament involving countries that hold a top five ranking in the world - Australia, Argentina and China.

This should show King how far her team has come since coming last at last year's World Cup. "It will be much difficult for us, facing teams that are superior, but I am optimistic that we can win one or two matches," she said.

While the players are off right now, they will be back in camp in Pretoria on Sunday, after playing 30 international matches since that poor showing at the last World Cup.