Hockey. A dramatic 4-2 win on penalties has resulted in world-title gold for 41-year-old Jason Lynch.
The Rocky Cape Tavern Smithton Saints goalkeeper recently returned from the Masters Hockey World Cup in Rotterdam, with his Australian Over 40s team defeating host nation Netherlands in the grand final on June 13.
Trailing 1-0 with eight minutes to go, the Aussies equalised and took the game to a penalty shootout, holding their nerve to take out the tournament and be named as champions in their age group.
“What’s been achieved is still washing over me,” Lynch said of the uplifting victory.
“Singing the national anthem . . . Once they give you the medal, you sing it pretty loudly.”
Lynch’s World Cup journey started late last month, with the full squad meeting up in Dubai before undertaking a week’s training at one of the top hockey clubs in Spain: the Barcelona Royal Polo Club.
“We played some really hard club teams there,” he said. “We got beaten in both games, but we got to try some different things.”
The team then moved to their base for the tournament on the outskirts of Rotterdam, with Lynch describing the team’s preparation and professionalism of support staff as first-class.
“We were probably the only team there that had a strict setup,” he said. “It’s really intimidating [for other teams] when a whole team does a warm-up together.”
“You eat, sleep and breathe hockey for three weeks. Without a shadow of a doubt, the way everyone looked after their bodies was important.”
With 12 teams competing, the Australian Over 40s took on the USA, Ireland and South Africa in their opening matches, topping their group with three convincing wins.
A 7-2 thrashing of Zimbabwe in the quarter finals set up a tense encounter with reigning champions England in the semi-final; the Aussies beating their classic sporting rivals 4-3.
“There were a lot of feelings in that game,” Lynch said. “The opposition players were quite big guys – our fitness really came to bare.”
With the Dutch awaiting the Aussies in the grand final, Lynch admitted feeling “terrified” in the build-up, but the nerves were soon shaken off during the match.
“I had a very good save in the first half of the final. After that, I felt really confident.”
With two goalkeepers in the squad, Lynch watched from the sidelines in the second half. The pair had made a “gentleman’s agreement” that if the match went to penalties, whoever was keeping in the second half would follow through.
“All you can do is encourage your teammates [in that situation],” he said.
The Over 40s were not alone in clinching an uplifting tournament win; Australia’s Over 45 men, Over 40 and Over 60 women also took home gold.