Commonwealth GamesSport

Wimbledon hockey star believes Wales can still rise, despite missing out on medals

By Max Hall

Wimbledon Hockey Club midfielder Ben Francis will not be in medal contention this weekend, as Wales slipped out of the picture in Birmingham.

But he says the experience has sharpened the appetite and made him more determined than ever to help Wales beat the world’s best teams.

Speaking after Wales finished third in their Commonwealth Games group, to miss out on the semi-finals, Francis said: “Coming into this tournament the dream was to get to a semi-final and we knew we had to push England and India, top ten nations.

“As a group that’s our next target. I think between [world rankings] ten and 20 we’re getting in games, we’re winning those games. Now, for the next step, can we beat a top ten team in the world?”

Francis and new clubmate Rhys Bradshaw, who is yet to make his Wimbledon debut after arriving from the University of Exeter, had plenty of pitch time as Wales beat Canada 5-1, lost 4-2 to England and beat Ghana 6-1 before losing their final round robin game 4-1 to India.

“It was a good start against Canada,” said the new signing. “We normally start quite slow so it was good to get that under our belt.

“Then we had a really good game against England. At 2-2 we had a few chances and could’ve nicked it. Obviously they’re a better side than us in the world rankings so I think we gave it our best shot.

“We had a bit of a slow start against Ghana but then we pulled it together and we gave a good go of it against India, but they’re a pretty good side.”

Wales now go into a fifth-place match on Sunday at 3pm which could still be against any of the teams in the other group but appears likely to be Pakistan or New Zealand.

Picture top: Francis in a huddle with Wales team-mates before the final quarter of the clash with India (Picture: Max Hall)

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