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Bend it like Brent

K. KEERTHIVASAN
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MEET Australian hockey legend Brent Livermore captains the Chennai Cheetahs in the ongoing Bridgestone World Series

When we reach the hotel to interview Brent Livermore, the Australian hockey legend is having a massage, we hear. The 35-year-old captain of the Chennai Cheetahs team in the ongoing Bridgestone World Series hockey arrives 20 minutes later — fresh and eager to face our questions.

Widely travelled, articulate and a true leader, Brent is an asset to the team as a midfielder. The former captain of Australia feels the WSH schedule has been hectic, but adds that it's the challenging part. “Yes, it's been hectic,” he begins. “Back-to-back matches with the Delhi Wizards (away) and the Mumbai Marines (home) are tiring and take a toll on your body. But how we adjust to the schedule and give our best is the key,” he says.

Brent seems to be enjoying his leadership role with the Chennai Cheetahs. Interacting with players from different countries has been a refreshing experience, he says. “Playing in WSH has been a learning experience on and off the field — from rest, recovery and meetings to sticking to a routine and discussing the formation with the coach and players,” he says.

Brent says it's by playing in leagues such as this that players learn how to compete under pressure. One of the most capped players for Australia — he's played in 318 matches in a career spanning 13 years. Brent has played in two Olympics, 11 Champions Trophy tournaments, two World Cups, two Commonwealth Games, besides several other international tournaments.

Winning a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics as a captain will certainly be at the top of Brent's CV. “The gold had been eluding us. It was an amazing experience. It's not just the training. You need family support, patience , no occurrence or recurrence of injuries and the support of fans,” he says. He says interactions with great coaches such as Terry Walsh, Ric Charlesworth and Barry Dancer have made him sharp and intelligent.

Brent admits to being disappointed at not being part of the World Cup in New Delhi in 2010 which his team won. “I was hoping to be part of the team,” he says. “Even now, I am fit, but the selectors have ignored my performance and fitness level, and have instead preferred to look at my date of birth, which is sad. They (selectors) told me you are among the top 10 players in Australia, but we need to blood youngsters. It's difficult to accept that. My situation is the same as cricketer Simon Katich.”

Playing in WSH has reassured him that he belongs to the best in the world. “We have a wonderful team with a good mix of youth and experience. I will be disappointed if Chennai Cheetahs doesn't reach the final,” says Brent, who is a big fan of Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Lance Armstrong and Roger Federer for their continued success in their chosen sport.

K. KEERTHIVASAN

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