3rd May 2012, 02:40 PM
London 2012 Olympics: Locog defends preparation of Riverbank Arena hockey pitch - Telegraph.co.uk
Under fire: the so-called 'Smurf Turf' has been criticised*Photo: AFP
Defender Graeme Begbie, who had recently returned after reconstructive knee surgery, tore an anterior cruciate ligament when he slipped and fell during a match against India at the venue on Tuesday.
The day before he had tweeted that the pitch was "nice" adding "It's pretty quick and not too bouncey [sic]".
Twitter: Graeme Begbie - @Whitchurch_HC new pitch was nice. Its pretty quick and not too bouncey.
But Australia coach Ric Charlesworth said the surface, which has eye-catching pink surrounds, was too slippery.
"Every Olympics it's the same thing, they put in new surfaces and don't wear them in before we play," he said. "We've lost Begbie and it's heart-breaking for him."
And James Bulley, the Locog head of venues and infrastructure, has said that the organisers had followed the exact instructions of the world body.
"We put down the hockey field of play a year before the Olympic competition starts," he said. "Before even the stands were built we've had players playing on that field. So it's had it's time to bed in properly.
"It's followed exactly the FIH requirements in terms of the bedding-in process, the specification. So that's the appropriate way to manage and build the facility."
While the 80,000-seat Olympic stadium will go in to lock-down from May 12 until the Games open on July 27, Bulley said the hockey pitch would be played on right up to the start of competition.
Meanwhile Australian player Edward Ockenden said that he liked the 16,000 seat facility.
"It's a world class venue. We don't have many hockey venues like this around the world," said the bronze medallist from Beijing in 2008.
"We've put a blue pitch in in Perth where we train back home. Now, once you've played on it a few times, it doesn't make too much of a difference."
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