Totnes hockey star Ollie Payne believes a tough battle to be Team GB’s number one will help him perform at Paris 2024. 

Payne rose through the international ranks quickly, making his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 just months after breaking into the GB set-up. 

There is only room for one goalkeeper in the 16-strong squad for the Games and Payne has faced an even tougher battle to get the nod this time around.

The 25-year-old staved off a tight battle with James Mazarelo, whose shootout heroics helped England reach the EuroHockey Championship final, to earn the spot.

“It’s been brilliant,” revealed Payne. “Every day, coming into training, you know you’ve got to play as well as you can.

Men's Hockey Team Announcement for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, on Tuesday 18 June 2024.
(Team GB / Ben Duffy)

“We’ve got a good relationship. There’s no friction or anything like that. It’s been nice to try to get the best out of each other, whether it be through what we see with each other or just bringing a certain level to training each day and knowing you need to compete at a certain level.”

When Payne came into the side, he had big shoes to fill in the shape of 195-cap veteran stopper George Pinner.

“George was great with the experience that he possessed,” said Payne. “I was a bit younger, less experienced at the time and I was always asking questions about those experiences.

“With Maz, I’ve been telling him what to expect and as he’s started playing a bit more, it’s been watching each other play and train each day. There’s no secret sauce, it’s about keeping it simple and playing as well as we can.”

The men’s squad features a mix of youth and experience with seven men set to make their Olympic debuts in the French capital. 

Head coach Paul Revington has overseen a transformation in the team, instilling an attacking philosophy and leading England to the final of the EuroHockey Championships.

Amid it all, the man between the sticks has tried to keep things simple.

Payne said: “With the game changing, there are so many more aerials into the circle and I’ve got to be aware of that. 

“In terms of my role and my game plan, the more things that change, the simpler my role gets and I’ve tried to make it as simple as possible. I’m trying to go after the fundamentals.”

Team GB begin their campaign against Spain on 27 July, with reigning world champions Germany and reigning European champions Netherlands looming large in Group A. 

The pool also features France and South Africa, with the top four sealing progression to the quarter-finals.

All games will be played at the refurbished Stade Yves-du-Manoir - the only venue that will have featured at both the 2024 and 1924 Games, having hosted the athletics a century ago.

Payne said: “I’m really proud to be selected for a second one. I’ve grown with the team and it’s been an enjoyable three years - I’m playing with my mates and there’s not a load of pressure in the environment we’re in.”

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