London 2012 Olympics hockey pitch unveiled

The GB women's team try out the new surface at the Hockey Centre
Image caption The GB women's team try out the new surface at the Hockey Centre

London 2012 organisers have unveiled the striking blue Olympic Hockey Centre pitch in Stratford.

International players have been trying out the pitch, 276 days before the first match takes place there.

London 2012 will be the first world event to be played on a different coloured synthetic turf to the traditional green.

The water-based surface uses a high-performance polyethylene resin helping to make it the world's fastest pitch.

Triple Olympian Dave Luckes said the pitch had been laid so well that it was truer than other newly-laid surfaces, which often have bobbles. Feedback from players about the surface had so far been excellent, he added.

The run-off areas are a shocking pink, and the colour changes are designed to improve viewing for players, officials, spectators and broadcasters.

"Gold medal mentality"

Luckes, Head of Sport Competition for Games organisers Locog, said having the pitch ready so far ahead of the Olympics would allow players to get used to the surface.

The centre's stands and infrastructure are due to be completed by March, and a test event is planned at the site from 2-6 May.

"By the time the Games come round next July it's going to be in tip-top condition," he told Sky Sports News.

He added that the pitch's bright colours - those of London 2012 - would differentiate the venue from previous Games.

That was a sentiment echoed by GB women's international Alex Danson, who added that the additional factor of using yellow, rather than white, balls would be another bonus.

"The brighter the ball is, the better you can see it," she said as her squad trained on the surface. "The pitch is great to play on too; it's really quick and true and enables us to play with confidence."

The British men's and women's teams both came fifth at the Beijing Olympics. Danson said excitement was building and her side was going into London 2012 with a "gold medal mentality".

Although they face strong opposition from the likes of Argentina, the Netherlands, China, Korea, Japan and India, she said the British team would be boosted by playing in front of a home crowd. When complete, the temporary stadium will have a 16,000-capacity.

"If you close your eyes and imagine 16,000 people cheering for you, that's like a 12th and 13th player," said Danson at the unveiling of the centre in Stratford's Olympic Park.

The hockey centre features two pitches, one of which will be used to stage all 76 matches, while the other will be used for training by the 380 competitors in 24 men's and women's teams.

The stadium will welcome more than 780,000 spectators at both Olympic Hockey and Paralympic five and seven-a-side football competitions.

The first London 2012 hockey fixtures will be two women's group matches on 29 July.

The pitch will also be used to host both the five and seven-a-side Paralympic football competitions.

Jeff Davis, the Football Association's National Development Manager for Disability Football, said the new stadium would create an exciting atmosphere, adding to the appeal of the Paralympic Football events.

After the Games, the arena will be dismantled and elements will be moved to a multi-purpose sports facility at Eton Manor, in the north of the Olympic Park.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites