Felix Denayer, aged 26, will be one of the most experienced Belgian hockey players present on the Rio stage. He is ready to play with the Red Lions in his third Olympic Games after getting ninth place in 2008 in Peking and fifth place in London four years ago.
On Saturday, Belgium will open its tournament with a clash (‘…of the Titans!’) against the Brits. “We absolutely want to win,” Denayer begins. “In recent years, we always thought that we had a chance to beat the Brits, but we never pulled it off. We had that sense, for example, in the quarter final of the last world championship (in 2014 in the Netherlands) or during the last Champions Trophy (in London). This time, I wish to get revenge. To go on a quest for an Olympic medal. This is our dream,” the player from the KHC Dragons added.
He added, “I think that we have the best team that we have ever had at our disposal. During recent years we have learned a lot and we have travelled far. See what rewards we have reaped. We haven’t yet won a medal though. I hope that Rio will be the beginning of a new phase and that we will pick up titles. We went up from thirteenth to sixth place in the world rankings.”
He went further, “It feels that we have gone into the world hockey elite almost overnight. We need to go a step further. This is our moment. We play with passion, but should keep a calm head in crucial moments. Our mantra is, ‘Fire in the heart, cool in the head.’ We clearly have the talent and, as tests have shown, physically we are on point. It only remains for us to have the team mindset. We need to be able to do the job out on the pitch.”