WINCHESTER hockey star Rob Moore believes he has never had a better chance of winning an Olympic medal, as he embarks on the third Games of his career.
The 31-year-old, who has 230 international caps to his name, is a crucial component of the Great Britain team that heads to London 2012.
Moore is a veteran of the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, but a place on the podium has always proved elusive.
In Greece, the British squad finished ninth, while they were fifth in China.
Yet Moore believes a medal could finally be within their grasp, thanks to the extra money that has been pumped into the sport ahead of a home Olympics
, coupled with a centralised full-time programme for the players at Bisham Abbey.
“With all the added funding as part of the whole Games, and the structure we have had in place as a squad in the last few years, individually and as a team we are by far better prepared than ever
before,” said Hampshire-born Moore, who plays his club hockey for Surbiton.
“For a while, people did hold down jobs and various things, but certainly in the year leading up to the Games we have effectively been full-time.
“It’s a very different environment we have had in the build up to this Games compared to the ones before.
“We have had a good couple of years, and we are now ranked fourth in the world and have threatened at major tournaments for a couple of years.
“When you throw into the mix that we’re going to be at home, the fantastic preparation we’ve had and will continue to have, then we are hoping to be at the business end of the tournament – we are hoping to medal.”
Four years ago, forward player Moore admitted he wasn’t sure if he would carry on until London. He is glad that he made the commitment, though.
“I’m hugely happy now that I’m here,” said the former pupil at Southampton ’s King Edward VI School.
“I have been playing hockey a long time. The training is always hard work and there are always moments where you wonder why you’re doing it.
“But it’s moments like this that provide you with the answer to that. It’s hugely exciting and I have no regrets.”
And now that he is here, Moore is refusing to rule out continuing until the 2016 Olympics, in Brazil.
“I think that’s probably a question I will think about after the Olympics are over,” he said.
“It’s within the realms of possibility that I could go on for another one. I’m old, but I’m not that old.
“I’ll see how the summer goes, how I feel afterwards, my family, and all sorts of factors.”
For now, though, all the focus is on London.
“The previous Olympics I have been to, it’s been an amazing experience,” he said. “But for the home nation athletes it is always that much more special, exciting and intense – and we are going to
have that this time.”