University of Johannesburg‘s Kristen Paton is gearing up for a testing World Cup hockey challenge after learning some hard lessons at the Commonwealth Games earlier this year.
The UJ star believes the World Cup, starting in London on July 21, will be a step up from the competition they faced in Australia.
“I obviously cannot speak from experience, but I think the World Cup, compared to the Commonwealth Games, is like chalk and cheese,” said Paton, who earned her first national cap only late last year.
“The standard of hockey increases tenfold. This means your basic skills, technical ability and fitness must be better.
“Your ability to execute game plans is critical and any mistake is punished, so attention to detail is very important.”
The 21-year-old chiropractic student said she was delighted to be recognised again by the national selectors.
“I have to keep reminding myself that everything that happened this year was actually real,” she said.
“Less than a year ago I wasn’t even considered as part of the national team. To have a Commonwealth Games and soon a World Cup behind my name just eight months down the line is an incredible feeling.
“There are always nerves. Every time a team is announced, it’s a massive relief when you do get the call.”
Paton said she had learned a great deal from the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
“It’s easy to be a critic from your couch but when you physically play against top players, you quickly realise how difficult international hockey is,” she said.
“It was a massive learning curve for me and I realised just how much more work I had to do to be able to compete.”