Every four years, we watch. We marvel at badminton and wonder about the modern decathlon. With more than 300 gold medals awarded across 37 disciplines, our lives are suddenly much less productive. To aid in your immersion, we continue with our daily edition of "know your Olympic sport," by introducing the next David Beckham explaining why field hockey players are always wet.
Dutch defender Taeke Taekema is known for his ability to curve shots off of set plays. He even has his own piece of equipment to help amplify his talents and he's apparently not bad looking either. Bend it like Beckham? How about twist it like Taekema.
The legend of Taekema was cemented following the European Championship in 2007 where he scored 16 goals in the tournament (apparently that's good). Taekema's skills are centered on his ability with penalty corners. Similar to a soccer free kick, a special shot known as the "drag flick" has revolutionized the game in just the past 15 years. And like pulling a wrister in ice hockey, the player drags the stick along the permanently wet ground (more on that below) allowing him to either lift the ball or sling it along the ground. In a quasi jai-alai move, the ball rolls up the stick and then back down again adding more speed. Taekema trained and learned from fellow Dutchman Taco van den Honert (can't make that up) who first introduced the shot to the outdoor game. In short, Taekema can flick with the best of them.
Beckham could bend before his Adidas Predator boot and Taekema doesn't need his Adidas TT-10 stick to flick—but apparently it doesn't hurt. The TT-10 is a carbon fiber stick designed with a more extreme curve and lower blade profile than traditional sticks making it ideal for flicks (though less desirable for other skills). With the advent of flicks, the governing bodies have even begun to limit the amount of curvature allowed in the equipment
Like Beckham's boot, the TT-10 is available for any field hockey player but with his initials and number creating the name, expect his peers to pass.