Hot off the back of the Rio Olympics and Hockey is still basking in the limelight. The nineteen ladies chosen to represent Great Britain hit a nerve with the UK public, finding themselves the heroines of an unbelievable fairy-tale that had the nation hooked. The Gold medal final was watched by nine million people, nine million, that’s an amazing amount for a sport that has taken a bit of a back seat until now. After we won Bronze at the London Olympics, hockey funding went up, and the participation of women in sport went up by 25%. We can only wait and see what the Rio effect will be, but I think it’s safe to say that as far as hockey is concerned, it will be a positive one. Those nineteen women had a shared goal (aside from winning Gold that is) and that was that they wanted to, ‘inspire the next generation‘. My club, Old Cranleighans started it’s junior section (Colts) nearly five years ago with just fifty children. They now count nearly three hundred mini-players. I caught up our Ladies Club Captain Helen Hawes, who helps coach the Colts, to find out more about it.
My love for team sport started about eight years ago. I played various sports at school and thoroughly enjoyed them all, but went through a rather lazy period in my teens, and gave up everything bar lifting a drink or cigarette to my mouth. Luckily when I hit my mid-twenties, my rather rotund frame got me realising that I needed to get fit and I started running. When I then got together with my husband, I knew he played hockey but thought very little of it, other than it frustrated me that it seemed to take up his entire Saturday and involved a lot of beer afterwards. This didn’t fit in with my new couples plan of, ‘spend Saturday’s lazing around, reading newspapers, lunching, planning our future, etc’. I found myself a ‘Sports Widow’ and spent most Saturdays bored and alone. So, a decision was made, I decided to start playing a team sport, and given there are two clubs very near where we live, I chose hockey. It was time to dust off my old wooden stick.
Tomorrow is the big day, it’s Royal Parks half marathon time. I wont beat around the bush, I’m cacking it slightly as my training hasn’t gone quite to plan. Okay let me re-phrase that, it hasn’t gone to plan at all!! It started off so well and positively, that back in July I easily hit the eight mile mark, yay go me! I was feeling pretty smug I have to tell you, half/smarf marathon, easy peasy I was thinking. All I needed to do was sustain the eight miles and push a bit more over September then I’d be there, but a family holiday with much cheese, bread and more wine that you could shake a big wine stick at got in the way and well, my body just gave up! It’s quite frankly been a struggle even hitting five miles since that holiday (I blame France!) and my knees are all but knackered, but tomorrow sees me attempting 13.1 miles, taking in the lovely sights of London town.
When I was growing up I loved sport and did all the classic activities like ballet, horse riding and tennis. I was obsessed with horses, was lucky enough to have my own and I played tennis at a club every Friday night. Every summer I laughed hysterically playing badminton in the garden (It’s funny when the shuttlecock gets stuck in the racquet, no?!), and my older brother always made me play cricket and rugby with him. I relished doing physical activities and was constantly outside doing sport of some kind. However the two main things that I did, riding and tennis were actually quite solitary sports. I often spent weekends on my own at my stables because no one else seemed to be around and at the tennis club, we were generally made to play singles matches, so I never had that feeling of being in a ‘team’. Fast forward a bit and suddenly my teenage angst years hit, boys came on the scene and I started to find these solo sports rather boring. This, coupled with a move to a new school for sixth form and the freedom that I was given, meant that my love of sport went out of the window. No longer made to do it as a compulsory lesson, I stopped it completely. The tennis club was ditched and my lovely horse was sold. Given the option to be lazy, I quite happily took it.
Running, ah running, we have a bit of a love/hate relationship going on. I hate doing it but I love how it makes me feel afterwards, I get a buzz knowing that I’ve been outside and done some exercise. I first started running when I was living with my sister in Putney, London about ten years ago. Around this time, I was eating really badly, gorging on wine, cake, pasta and cream and despite knowing that I had quite a serious muffin top, I was massively in denial. I weighed myself one day and nearly had a heart attack, as I saw I was tipping the scales at around 10 and a half stone. I’m a fairly small, at 5ft 3, so this didn’t sit well on me, literally. I made the decision then and there to go for a run. Possibly not the best decision at the time as it was a really hot day and I just about made it to the end of the road without my head exploding, but I made it to the park eventually after much sweating, huffing and puffing, and from that day on I tried to go running at least twice a week to get my bod fit.