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Olympic Gold Medalist Alex Danson Joins STX's #RiseoftheElite
The STX #RiseoftheElite continues...
We are pumped to have Great Britain squad member and Olympic Gold Medalist Alex Danson join the STX family! Alex has been dominating the pitch for over 15 years and she's been capped more times than any other women's player on Team GB or Team England. She's also super passionate about growing the game and encouraging young athletes to get involved in the sport.
We recently chatted with Alex and talked all things Rio, fitness, and Carpool Karoake. Here's a look at our exclusive interview with the newest member of #TeamSTX...
1. Today, you're one of the most recognizable faces in field hockey, but how did you get started in the sport?
My mum got me into it! I started playing with her in our back garden when I was about six. When I was 12, I joined my first hockey club. Initially, the only option was to play on the boys’ team, so I played with the guys for about three years and then moved to the women’s team.
2. You've been playing at the elite level for 15+ years. Do you remember the first time you made the cut for the national team?
I got my first England cap on October 23, 2001. I remember it so vividly – I was 16 and totally starstruck. You know how it is – you’re stood next to these players that you grew up idolizing, trying to act calm and collected and not say anything too silly haha…
3. What's a challenge you've had to overcome and how did it shape you as a player?
I would say my greatest challenge has been dealing with injuries. I’ve had two concussions, dislocated both my shoulders and broken both of my thumbs.
Obviously, injury takes its toll physically, but in my experience, the mental piece is even more draining. When you’re out of the game, you start to feel lonely and isolated from your team. You miss the rush on the pitch together, having laughs in the locker room, being exhausted from practice yet energized at the same time…
Having to sit out in those moments has really helped to cultivate my appreciation for team. I’ve realized just how lucky I am to get to play alongside these motivated, strong, hardworking women who also happen to be my really good friends!
4. Career highlight so far?
It would have to be winning the Olympic Gold in Rio. I’ll never forget the moment when it hit that we won. You work so hard for four years – all your time, attention and energy focused on a single goal. And then to actually pull it off and walk away with a gold medal...that’s something that sticks with you forever.
5. What are some of your favorite exercises?
On the field, I love any shooting drill that simulates the conditions of a real game, whether it’s time pressure or player pressure. At the gym, I love cable rotation drills – these are great because they build strength in and out of low positions in a way that’s really tailored to the specific movements in field hockey.
6. I think everyone could see that the GB squad had incredible chemistry - how did you achieve that?
We had an unwavering belief in what we were trying to achieve. Going into training, we sat down together and determined our vision and values for the Olympic cycle. Coming out of that, we held each other accountable. We owned our program, we pushed ourselves every day, and we supported each other through the whole process.
7. You recently opened the Alex Danson Academy! What's the dream behind that?
[Photo credit: Marcel Grabowski | www.marcelgphotography.com]
I’m so excited we’re up and running…I’ve been holding on to this idea for years! When the opportunity came along to work with Everyone Active, I jumped at the chance! We definitely share a passion for encouraging young people to pursue active, healthy lifestyles and using field hockey as an outlet to achieve that. I’m so grateful and beyond excited to see how it grows.
8. What's your latest gear obsession?
My new STX Stallion 600x – I love it! It's the perfect blend of materials – it can generate loads of power when shooting and handles perfectly when picking up hard passes. Plus, the bend at the end makes dribbling feel like a dream.
9. What do you do to chill out and have fun when you aren't playing field hockey?
I like to cycle and hang out with my friends and family! My nephews are the most adorable humans in the world, so I love spending time with them.
10. If you were on the Late Show, what would be on your Carpool Karoake playlist?
Haha wait can that please happen?? Let’s get the whole squad on! For the playlist, I’d have to go for a mix of S Club and Adele. Throw a bit of Ed Sheeran in there as well!
Wonder what it's like in the Olympic village? What it's like to return home with a gold medal? Experience the 2016 Rio Games with GB hockey squad member Shona McCallin.