Kookaburras' 'beautiful' act on podium after Olympics heartbreak

Hockeyroos players, pictured here devastated after taking home silver.
The Hockeyroos were devastated after taking home silver. (Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Kookaburras have been praised for a beautiful display of camaraderie on the podium after their heartbreaking loss in the Olympics gold medal match.

Australia's quest for their first Olympic gold medal since 2004 ended with a devastating penalty-shootout loss to fellow superpower Belgium on Thursday night.

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The Kookaburras were absolutely devastated after the match, with a number of players breaking down in tears.

However they put their devastation aside during the medal ceremony with a wonderful display of sportsmanship and mateship for each other.

When presented with their silver medals, each player then presented it to the teammate next to them and hung it around their neck.

It was a beautiful gesture that we've seen a number of times throughout the Tokyo Games, with Australia's swimmers doing similar.

Each player then stood on the podium proudly displaying their silver medal, despite it not being the colour they so badly desired.

It was a stark contrast to previous instances of runners-up taking off their silver medals in disgust.

The wonderful scenes had fans in awe on social media.

Kookaburras overcome with emotion after gutting loss

Kookaburras star Aran Zalewski admitted he missed the support of friends and family at the Tokyo Olympics, where fellow co-captain Eddie Ockenden also cut a drained figure.

The squad have been away from home since mid-July, while they face a fortnight in hotel quarantine before seeing loved ones again.

"Of course, I'm struggling, I'm pretty fatigued as well," Zalewski said, describing his "raw emotion".

"I'm just - not sad - but it was a real shame we didn't have any fans, friends and family here.

"I know they offer so much support for us players and keep us really grounded at tournaments like this, when we're away from home for so long.

"I know they'll be super proud of us."

Jacob Whetton and Matthew Dawson, pictured here consoling each other after the Hockeyroos' loss to Belgium.
Jacob Whetton and Matthew Dawson console each other after the Hockeyroos' loss to Belgium. (Photo by Pete Dovgan/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ockenden was overcome with emotion when asked about wife Louise and their sons.

"I miss them a lot," the veteran told the Seven Network at the end of his fourth Olympics.

"I know that they support me. I have been focusing so much on here.

"I've got a family that loves me at home, which I'm looking forward to getting back to."

Ending a gold-medal match with one-on-ones, especially after a five-year wait since Australia's quarter-final loss at Rio 2016, has reignited debate about whether the sport should find a better way to separate sides.

Zalewski and Ockenden both indicated their preference would be to return to extra time, which was in use when the Kookaburras won gold at Athens 2004.

"If you let it go to a shootout it can be a bit of a coin toss sometimes," Australia keeper Andrew Charter said.

with AAP

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