Victoria's Kirkpatrick set to begin Olympic field-hockey journey today in Tokyo

It’s in that other hockey — the one in the Summer Games — in which James Kirkpatrick of Victoria will make his Olympic debut this morning in Tokyo when Canada plays Germany.

The Islander has been a study in steely persistence after being a late cut for Rio 2016.

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“It feels really amazing to be here after missing out on the Rio Olympics,” Kirkpatrick said, from Tokyo.

“I’ve been playing with the same group of guys for the past 10 years and just being a part of this journey with them has been incredible. I think we have a great group and we’re really excited to see what we can accomplish here.”

That Team Canada group includes fellow former University of Victoria Vikes players Brenden Bissett, Keegan Pereira and Matt Sarmento.

In most of the world, field hockey is simply known as hockey and it’s the other code which is referred to as ice hockey. The depth of field is much greater in Olympic field hockey than in ice hockey in the Winter Games. This is not going to be easy in Tokyo for Kirkpatrick, Bissett, Pereira and ­Sarmento but they are prepared for the challenge.

“We’ve been wanting to compete with the top teams in the world,” said Kirkpatrick, who was a rugby and soccer player at Oak Bay High School.

Canada is in Olympic Pool B with Rio 2016 silver-medallist Belgium, 2008 Beijing and 2012 London gold-medallist Germany, European champion Netherlands and Commonwealth rivals Great Britain and South Africa.

“We have a tough pool, but I think that gives us an opportunity to show that we can compete with these top teams,” said Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick, of course, wishes his family could have been in Tokyo with him to share the moment. But that won’t be ­happening for any of the 11,000 ­athletes in these ­Olympics, nearly 75 of which are from the Island or Island-based on the 370-athlete Canadian team.

“It’s an unusual situation and I’m really thankful to be able to compete at these Games,” said Kirpatrick.

“When they were postponed in 2020 there was a lot of ­uncertainty if they were going to happen. Now that it’s finally here after a bit of an extended delay I can’t wait to get started. We all wish our friends and family could be here to support us but we know they will be doing so from back home and understand why that’s not possible this time around.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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