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Australian hockey team outraged at 5 a.m. Olympic wake-up calls

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The coach of Australia's top-ranked men's field hockey team is upset that his team was scheduled for three 8:30 a.m. games in the upcoming Summer Olympics, an early start that will force his team to rise at 5 a.m. on game days.

Ric Charlesworth was asked by The Age if the "imbalanced schedule" would affect his team's chances of winning Olympic gold. "Who knows?" he said.

Australia is the only team in the 12-nation tournament to have three games at the earliest start time. Teams play every other day at times ranging from 8:30 a.m. to 9:15 p.m.. The only night game for Team Australia is when it faces host Great Britain at 7 p.m. on Day 9.

[Related: Officials' error costs Olympian record]

Charlesworth suspects his team's schedule has something to do with television and the large time difference between Great Britain and Australia. The fact that another Pacific nation, New Zealand, has three games at 10:45 a.m. or earlier seems to confirm that.*

"It's crazy," Charlesworth said. ''And it's not like we're the 12th-ranked team in the tournament. How do you develop a routine around that program?"

That's some motivational talk right out of Knute Rockne's playbook. Here's how you develop a routine around it: Don't whine about it and make it work. Television rules all at the Olympics. Michael Phelps swam his eight finals races in Beijing in the morning instead of the night because NBC wanted to air it live. Be thankful Australians care about men's field hockey enough to want to see it on TV. Set practices at 6 a.m. for the next few months and make sure you bring working alarm clocks to London.

* There's a nine-hour difference between London and Sydney, meaning those three games will be broadcast at 5:30 p.m. on the east coast of Australia. That's not exactly primetime, but it's better than having the games in the middle of the Aussie night.

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