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September 30, 2000
Charlie's Angels sign off on a high
Jaideep Singh in Sydney
Charlie and his 'Angels' will no longer be together. The title triumph of the Australian women's hockey team at the Olympics marked the end of a glorious era under coach Ric Charlesworth.
Charlesworth had announced that the Olympics would be his last tournament. True to his word, after his team beat Argentina on Friday, he packed his bags and left to a thunderous applause from an appreciative, packed crowd.
The Australian women’s hockey team, popularly called 'Hockeyroos', has won all but one major title since Charlesworth took over after the defeat in the final of the 1992 Olympic Games at Barcelona.
The perfect record got broken only three months before the Olympic Games when the 'Hockeyroos' slipped to the third spot in the Champions Trophy, at Amsterdam, which Charlesworth was using to test his team's prowess.
"If you dare to win, you should be prepared to lose," said Charlesworth of that Champions Trophy loss which spoilt the Hockeyroos' perfect record.
Beginning with the 1993 Champions Trophy, the Australian women swept the top prize in two Olympic Games, two World Cups, four Champions Trophies and the Commonwealth Games under Charlesworth’s eight-year coaching stint which gave the team another name: Charlie's Angels.
Leaving behind a legacy which the Aussies are proud of, Charlesworth says his biggest contribution was to make the players set goals and work diligently to achieve them.
"Set yourself a goal and work at it diligently and cooperatively," he says about what legacy he was leaving behind.
"The key to success," says Charlesworth, "is to persist and to cooperate."
"We have outstanding individuals. If we can cooperate and persist, we can do it again and again," he says. "Once they get out on the pitch, I can't help them, they can only help themselves.
"You have to have that resilience and have a critical mass of people who are self starters and are capable of taking responsibility. If you have that you are hard to toss."
The women's hockey team has kept afloat the Australian challenge even as their men's team continued to live up to the tag of 'chokers'.
Ask Renita Garard, captain in the final against Argentina on Friday night, about the Aussie success story, and she says: "It's a difficult game, you can play well and still not win. It's been a good challenge to do it over and over again. To reproduce (the winning form) we had to work really, bloody hard. We've been honoured to have been there with Ric."
Garard was the lucky one to have been picked as the skipper for the final under a unique Hockeyroos formula where the captaincy is rotated among the senior stars.
Besides Charlesworth, this Australian triumph was a special one for four-time Olympian Rechelle Hawkes who won her third hockey gold medal.
Hawkes, who took the oath at the Olympic Games opening ceremony on behalf of all athletes, was also a member of the 1988 and '96 suqads.
"This is the way for me to go out and over the moon," said Hawkes, preparing to bid adieu to international hockey.
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