By Emily Goddard

Craig Parnham 170113January 9 - Craig Parnham, the Briton who helped lead his home nation to an Olympic medal and multiple podium finishes on the international circuit, has been named as the new head coach of the United States women's hockey team.

Parnham (pictured top), an Olympian himself having played at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Games, makes the move after having been assistant coach at Great Britain Hockey for the past five years, taking the team to the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics.

"This is a wonderful opportunity and a new challenge for me," the 39-year-old from Shropshire said.

"I think Team USA has a great deal of potential and I look at this as an opportunity for me to come in and make a big impact.

"I am excited to get out on the pitch and start working with the players on the team."

As assistant coach, Parnham played a pinnacle role in both Britain and England Hockey's remarkable run of podium finishes, including World Cup bronze in 2010, European bronze medals in 2009 and 2011 and bronze medals at the Champions Trophy and Delhi Commonwealth Games in 2010.

The team rose to number four in the international world rankings in 2012, from number 11 in 2007, taking a silver medal at the Champions Trophy in February and a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Craig Parnham helped lead the British womens hockey team to a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic GamesCraig Parnham helped lead the British women's hockey team to a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games

As well as his role with the senior women, Parnham also served as head coach to Britain's under-21 junior women's squad, who he led to a gold medal at the Australia Youth Olympic Festival in 2009 and a fourth place finish - the highest finish for England's under-21 team to date - at the Junior World Cup in Boston, Massachusetts.

"We were fortunate to attract such strong candidates in our global search for a women's national team coach and are very pleased to announce Craig Parnham has accepted our offer to become head coach and lead the women's programme through to Rio 2016," said Steve Locke, executive director of USA Field Hockey.

"Craig is a brilliant choice and our search committee did a marvellous job."

US two-time Olympian Keli Smith Puzo, added: "I am very excited for Craig to begin working with our programme and building on the foundation of the last eight years.

"Craig has a very impressive resume and his leadership with the Great Britain team as they climbed the world rankings, is a very admirable ingredient.

"With determined athletes awaiting his arrival, I am anxious to watch the team and cheer for them from afar."

Craig Parnham represented Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic GamesCraig Parnham (left) represented Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games

Parnham represented England and Great Britain 115 times and, as well as the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, competed in the 2002 World Cup.

Upon his retirement after the 2004 Olympic Games, Parnham embarked on a career with the Scottish Hockey Union as high performance coach before taking on an assistant coaching role with England Hockey.

In 2009, Parnham was selected to join the inaugural UK Sport elite coach apprentice programme from which he graduated in 2011.

He has also completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Elite Coaching from the University of Central Lancashire.

The US women will return to the Olympic Training Centre in Chula Vista, California, at the end of January to begin training for World League Round Two in Rio de Janeiro on March 4-10.

The goal of the tournament is to advance to World League Round Three, which will put Team USA in a position to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

Parnham is set to relocate to Chula Vista with his wife, Emma, in early February, and USA Field Hockey will be announcing an interim coach to work with the women's national team during the transitional period of his relocation.

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