Shona McCallin: Where Do You Go From Gold?
As an athlete, winning an Olympic Gold Medal is basically the highest achievement there is. But what happens after you win gold, especially so early on in your career? How do you stay motivated? What more is there to accomplish? Team STX’s Shona McCallin has a few ideas:
I get this question all the time. People say, “You’ve won a gold medal, what now? Where do you go from here?” suggesting I might stop after winning in Rio.
It’s funny though…I still feel like there’s so much to experience, so much to achieve in hockey, and so much to learn! The international hockey calendar is great, as there is always a gold medal to try and win. I'm already back in full training and looking forward to the future! In August, we have the chance to defend our title at the EuroHockey Championship in Amsterdam. August sounds far away right now, but it will creep up on us very quickly, I'm sure.
I really value goal setting. For the last four years, my goal was to win gold at the Rio Olympics. Now my goal is to win gold at the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. There are very few teams or athletes who have that gold trifecta – Olympics, World, and Commonwealth – so, that’s a big dream of mine. Both the World Cup and Commonwealth Games are huge tournaments in their own right. The World Cup only comes around every four years and is being held in London. I love playing in front of a home crowd!
The Commonwealth Games are multi-sport games similar to the Olympics. I love multi-sport events, being around and learning from athletes across many sports. If I get selected to play, it will be my first Commonwealth Games. (Plus, Australia is hosting the games and I'm sure they will put on a fantastic event!)
Even though Tokyo is four years away, we’ve already started preparing. They announced the training squad back in January, and I was honored to be named to it. It feels very much like a new school year with a new class. Right now, we are getting to know each other, establishing core dynamics, and creating our team culture. Training is really intense – remaining consistent at a high level is tough, and you have to make sure your body is equipped. For that reason, we’ve been focusing quite a lot on fitness and strength training, rather than skills training.
…speaking of which, we’re really lucky to get to go to South Africa to continue our training. The England squad is off to South Africa for some warm weather training through February and March. I'm really looking forward to the beautiful, sunny weather and getting some good training sessions and games vs. South Africa and Germany under our belts. 2017 is a busy year with World League 3 happening in Johannesburg, Europeans in Amsterdam, and then, if England qualifies, World League 4 in New Zealand.
Off the field, I’ve got lots going on as well. Recently, I’ve become involved with Independent Age, an organization that works to provide companionship for older adults to combat loneliness. You get matched up with someone, and then you get to hang out with them! About every week, I go to visit my friend Lynn…we have a cup of tea, or go out to lunch and chat. She’s super sweet, and our weekly chats are a great reminder about the importance of connecting with people from all walks of life. Focusing on your goals and working hard is important, but so is cultivating relationships along the way.
I’m also working with Inspire+, a youth sports charity, to visit about 40 schools each year and do assemblies and workshops. I usually talk to the kids about my hockey journey and what it’s like to be an international athlete, and sometimes go and have a hit around the pitch too. All the kids I've met have been really fun to engage with and are really enthusiastic about playing and learning about hockey.
So, what now?
Between training, traveling, competing, and visiting schools, I like to keep busy! I have one day off a week and if I were to make a wish, my perfect day off would be...Pancake house breakfast. Morning spa treatments. And beach adventure with friends. Perfect :)
Want more of Shona’s story? Click here for Shona McCallin: Olympic Homecoming.