Anne Panter insists the medal-winning mentality harboured by Team GB women’s hockey team since the last Olympics means they are genuine contenders for a podium berth at London 2012.
Panter made her Olympic bow in Beijing in 2008 where a sixth-place finish represented a satisfactory outcome for a team ranked eighth in the world but with a rejuvenated outlook and a Champions Trophy silver in her back pocket expectancy levels have shifted.
That final appearance in February against Argentina launched Danny Kerry’s side to fourth in the world rankings and according to Panter it’s made the rest of the world sit up and take note.
On England duty the 28-year-old has been equally impressive. A bronze at the 2010 Commonwealth Games coupled with another third-place in the European Championships a year later proving her knack of performing on the biggest of stages.
But with the biggest of all lying in wait the Leicester Hockey Club star believes they now have nothing to fear.
“Preparations have been brilliant, we’ve never felt this good,” she said. “We’re in a really good place and all of the hard work has been done.
“There is definitely more expectancy, going into Beijing we hadn’t done particularly well. Since then we’ve won a bronze medal at the World Cup, and a silver at the Champions Trophy and people are talking about us as realistic gold medal contenders.
“It’s been a massive difference to that build-up we had to Beijing. We’ve been centralised down at Bishop Abbey since 2009 so for three years we have trained together full-time and that’s thanks to the support we get.
“We have the best programme in the world, the best coaches, everything, and that’s what has allowed us to climb the world rankings coming into London.
“The initial aim is to make it to the semi-finals, and then after that gold is definitely a possibility. It’s within our grasp.”
If Panter and co. can replicate the performance that saw them avenge their Champions Trophy conquerors Argentina in the test event in May then a medal is more than achievable.
That 2-0 victory at the Riverbank Arena whetted the appetite of Panter who believes a sell-out 16,000 crowd could prove the difference.
She added: “Hopefully using that home environment we can go one step more. In the test event the crowd were brilliant and they really do add that little bit when you’re out on the pitch.
“As well as that, we’ve trained on the pitch some many times so things like that give us a little edge. It feels like our home pitch.”
Lloyds TSB, proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Get closer to the Games at lloydstsb.com/london2012