Alex Danson England and Great Britain hockey forward
At just 26 years old, Hampshire-born Alex Danson has earned nearly 100 international caps for England and Great Britain and has competed in two Commonwealth Games and five European Cups.
She was a member of Team GB Women’s Hockey squad at the Beijing Olympics.
What was it like growing up in Hampshire?
My childhood was pretty much spent outside. We moved to Odiham from Southampton when I was little and I absolutely loved living there. I spent hours in Hook in the local recreation ground playing on the swings and the tennis courts.
When did you know that hockey was what you wanted to do?
I remember seeing some older kids playing roller hockey and thought it looked cool. I put on a pair of skates and I was terrible - I couldn’t skate! But I was really intrigued by this game of hockey.
Did you play for school and county teams?
I played at school and for Alton Hockey Club – they had an Under-19s Girls team, but I was only 11 when I joined, so they let me play Boys Under-14! Later on I played at county level and for North East Hampshire as well. My advice to youngsters is always, “If you love it, play as much as you can”. I was very lucky to be given the opportunities I had.
You are very supportive of young people. Last year you opened the Hampshire Games, an annual multi-sport event for school children.
Yes, it was such an incredible event. I was blown away by how many young people were there participating in such a wide range of sports. It was just an incredible celebration of sport and it summed up why there are so many great athletes that come out of Hampshire - because they are so well supported.
What is it like competing in an Olympic Games?
I’ve got a video montage of Beijing that I show when I go into schools. I must have watched it a thousand times but I still get goose bumps! I remember walking out onto the field for my first game thinking, “How am I going to hold my stick!” But you have a job to do and you have to perform well. You very quickly have to steady yourself.
How do you feel about London 2012?
What an unbelievable opportunity for our country to be engulfed by sport. As an athlete you can’t think about it too much whilst you’re training because there are 29 of us who train full-time and only 16 of us will go.
What sort of training regime are you on?
We are on the field twice a day, we’re in the gym lifting weights three times a week, we swim and we do running sessions, so we are busy! Before Beijing we were ranked 11th in the world and now we are ranked 4th, which just shows what a full-time training programme can produce.
How do you think the GB Women’s Hockey team is going to do in the Games?
Good question! After Beijing we all decided we were aiming for gold in London so we have trained with a gold mentality. We’ve always had exceptionally high standards. We’ve all made really difficult lifestyle decisions and have trained to the best of our ability, with the best coaching staff and the best programme. When the curtain closes for London we cannot have any regrets.
Have you thought of a future beyond sport?
Yes. I am currently studying for an Open University degree and I hope to teach eventually. I love going into schools and working in the P.E. departments. I was so lucky with my teachers and I want other people to experience sport as I have.
An extended audio version of this interview is available online