Olympics: Siblings in rivalry, the Hayward brothers from Australia, New Zealand

Brothers have played together at the Olympics from the days of Dhyan Chand and Roop Singh, who represented India in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics.

There are 26 sets of siblings participating in the Tokyo Olympics. The United States has seven sets of siblings in their 613-strong contingent — brother-brother, sister-sister, and brother-sister. Great Britain has nine while Netherlands, Croatia, Austria, and Spain too have such combinations. Some of them will also be competing against each other — especially individual competitions.

But brothers Leon and Jeremy Hayward are different from all of them. They are representing different countries at the Tokyo Olympics.

The Hayward brothers will square off when Australia meet New Zealand in a men’s Group A match on Wednesday.

And they will definitely come face-to-face especially during a penalty corner for Australia because Jeremy is the Kookaburras’ main short-corner expert while Leon, three years elder to him, is New Zealand’s goalkeeper.

Both Leon and Jeremy were born in Australia and represented Australia in age-group hockey. Leon made his debut for Australia in the test series against India in 2014. He also represented Australia in the Sultan Azlan Shah Memorial Hockey Tournament in Malaysia in 2015.

However, when he did not get selected for the national team for the next four years, Leon Hayward decided to move to New Zealand. He was eligible to represent them as his mother Ellie is of New Zealand descent.

Leon made his New Zealand debut in 2019 in a test series against Japan.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Hayward became a key member of the Australian team and was a member of the 2014 World Cup-winning squad.

The siblings had faced off in June this year when the trans-Tasman rivals played four matches including the FIH Pro League. Their parents had visited New Zealand to watch the brothers face off for the first time.

“I’ve actually asked them [who they’ll be supporting] a couple of times and they said they weren’t sure. But I let them know they’ll be wearing a black shirt during the games,” Leon had told the local media at that time.

Australia won all those matches and Jeremy had the bragging rights.

But when the two brothers face off at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, their parents will not be there and they will be giving their best to help their team win the match.