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“Thanks to the promotion of women’s sports, I now feel like a reference for the little ones”

TerraceThirty years after winning gold at the Barcelona Olympics, the Spanish women’s team will try to repeat a similar feat in the first World Cup in this sport that will host Terrassa. It will be a special tournament for the captain of the red sticks, the Egarenca Gigi Oliva, who will say goodbye to the selection once the tournament is over. The choice as MVP of the last Spanish women’s league will turn 32 on August 18, the day after a final he longs to play. If she gets there, she will become the player with the most internationals. He now has 261, five less than Rocío Ybarra (266). Oliva attends the ARA before the debut of the selection, this Friday (9.30 pm), against Canada.

Terrassa hosts a field hockey World Cup for the first time. Will it be a special date?

– Yes, because many of us were born here, and being able to have the best hockey in the world here and have family and friends come to see you is a unique fact that maybe only happens once in a lifetime. We have to make the most of it. There is a pressure point, but above all we are very motivated. It will be my last tournament with the selection, because although I enjoy it a lot, it is many hours and new generations must come. I would love to close this stage well.

What moments do you stay with?

– There are many, maybe some medals, but above all I stay with the companions and friends I have made. What I don’t stick with is when we were left out of the London Games. We ended up overcoming it, but it was a hard blow. I wanted to go very far and that same summer I went to Australia, where I was lucky enough to be able to sign for a team and play for a few months.

How do you get to the World Cup?

– We arrive with a team that presents several changes compared to what was played at the London Games, with girls with a little less experience, but with great potential and who are up to date with the new changes in hockey, both physically as with new game trends. Part of the technical team also changed, and that activates the players. We faced it with great desire, especially after the two years we spent with the covid, suffering in case someone tested positive and had to leave for home. Now we no longer live with that anxiety nor do we have to be in separate rooms. We couldn’t relate and we had to wear masks. Being able to get back to normal is a luxury.

They won a bronze at the 2018 World Cup in London. Do they aspire to repeat the gold that the 1992 team won at the same stadium?

– I spoke to some players from that team, such as Eli Maragall, who told me that we reminded him of that generation for the dedication and hours we have devoted to everything we do. Above all we have been told that we enjoy, that this lasts a lifetime. In the end, we train because we want success. We want them, but we have to go game by game. I have experienced situations where we saw everything very face to face and then it was not possible for a detail. You can be superior to a rival and your boss can betray you in the penalty shootout shoot-out.

The penalties, precisely, deprived them of the semifinals in the last Games. Have they worked very mentally?

– Many years ago, since I started going with the selection, I have been doing sessions with a psychologist. There are many situations that need to be worked on and that you need to prepare for in order to cope. There are situations that can frustrate you, but in the end you have to pull off your best version on the day of the competition. You have to be strong, especially in tournaments where you have to play one or two days apart, where whoever gets up first is the one who wins the next game. In a competition there are no moments to lament. You need to learn from what has happened and think about the next rival.

Has fitness changed much since its inception?

– Yes, but it is a global trend. When I started everyone was training less than now. The evolution of hockey rules has led to a brutal physical change. Before teams were slower, now the game is more physical and spectacular, because there are more area actions. In Spain the teams have always been very technical, but we have put the batteries physically. Everyone trains more and technology helps control loads. We have equaled the best selections.

Can this World Cup be a good opportunity to drag more girls into field hockey?

– Yes. We need more chips, because from quantity comes quality, to be able to compete with the best teams, which have a very large base. If we get a lot of girls to sign up now, 10 or 15 years from now we can train a higher volume. With the structure being assembled, increasingly professional, it will be very important to broaden the base.

For this to happen, we need successes such as the 1992 Olympic gold, which create benchmarks. Do you feel like a reference for the little ones?

– I feel it now, thanks to the impetus that women’s sport has received. The greater involvement of clubs, federations and the media makes more people follow us. We are beginning to notice this paradigm shift that women’s sport is experiencing, but there is still work to be done.

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