After a few months away from the sport, I have made my mind up to retire from international hockey. I had never planned to make a formal announcement – I rather liked the idea of just stepping away quietly after the excitement in Rio – however, I feel it’s important to take the opportunity to thank publicly those who have had such a significant impact on my career.
There are many fantastic individuals within Great Britain and England hockey and the English Institute of Sport who may not quite appreciate their contribution – please never underestimate the power of a conversation. To teammates, both past and present, who invested all that they had, both physically and mentally, when no one was watching or cheering us on, these are the precious and most valued moments I will hold on to.
“An absolute diamond on and off the hockey pitch. Someone who made me smile every day and who gave everything for her teammates throughout her career. It was my pleasure to get to play alongside her”. – Susannah Townsend; GB, England & La Gantoise HC
“Absolute pleasure working and getting to know you over the years Han. You’ll be missed!” – Emma Gardner; Performance Nutritionist English Institute of Sport
“Years of rooming, playing together and creating memories…congratulations to a very special friend” – Alex Danson; GB, England & Clifton HC
“She brought a great quality to the team on and off the pitch. I certainly looked up to her as a player and she played with so much passion. I’ve loved playing alongside you for many years and wishing you all the best on your new ventures.” Nicola White, GB, England & Holcombe HC
“I don’t think many people realise how valuable Hannah was as a player to GB and England. Her knowledge and understanding of the game is second to none. She’s going to be missed on the international hockey scene and I’d like to thank her for everything she’s taught me as a player and a person”. Shona McCallin; GB, England and Holcombe HC
In elite sport we aim for perfection. It is a relentless obsession that in reality will never be achieved. The pursuit of such a goal will inevitably stress the rigour of the culture in which we operate. I am incredibly proud of the investment our team, players and staff alike, made in ensuring we went about it the “right way”. Sustainable success, in my mind, can only come from investing in how we think, feel and behave. We have hopefully made it very clear that it is possible to win Gold medals whilst still investing in the health and well-being of athletes. We must never lose sight of this.
I feel a great sense of content with what I have achieved alongside incredible friends, teammates, coaches and support staff. What I take forward is not a list of accomplishments but the inspiration I have gained from seeing my teammates endure, hurt, cry, thrive and roar with such joy and elation you will only ever witness in sport. It is seeing these emotions from individuals all striving to achieve a common goal that will live long in my memory.
Now is the time for me to work on my other passions and embrace new challenges. I’m excited by the opportunity to join friends in the pub after work, order a takeaway when I can’t be bothered to cook and wear something other than a tracksuit and trainers! That aside, I’m looking forward to being able to continue to have an impact in the game through my coaching role with the England U21 squad and share my learning’s of high performing teams within business.
Finally, I would like to thank Great Britain, England Hockey, the English Institute of Sport, the hockey community, friends and family for all the support and expertise you have provided both on and off the pitch. I am a happy, healthy and content person because of you all. Good luck to the new crop of players tasked with forging your own path forward to international success. I’ll be cheering you on all the way.
Dr Hannah MacLeod MBE Olympic Gold Medalist & High Performance Consultant