During my hockey playing days I was always described as the fit one, the one who ran lots (sometimes too much) and the one who was (I quote) always training! It seems that these traits fit into the triathlon world. In fact I train less, and still have a long way to go, before I reach the fitness of the many triathletes I have come across. The truth is I do love to train, I do like to run and I enjoy the opportunity to push myself physically. These things haven't changed from when I played hockey, but I was curious to know if other hockey players turned triathletes were the same... So I decided to ask!
I have been lucky enough to enlist the help of four talented athletes:
Between them they have represented at county, regional and international levels in hockey. They have gone on to be talented triathletes, winning age group titles, qualifying for Kona and all aiming to compete at a high level. I wondered if it was coincidence that they have been successful in two sports and whether there are any common denominators or magic formulas. It seems that they are just talented people, who train hard, and know what it takes to be successful!
I decided to ask them all a few questions about their hockey playing days and their triathlon exploits. I hope you enjoy the responses as much as I have. I am very grateful for their honesty, the helpful advice they give and the inspiration it has given me.
How long did you play hockey for?
Kim: Started at School Under9s (Gresham’s School) right the way through to Loughborough Uni, then into the world of work I joined Chiswick then Teddington Hockey Club
Sam: 15 years
Parys: From when I was 10 years old until I was 30.
Ali: 15 years
Me: Like everyone else, I played hockey from a young age and played until I was 26.
What position did you play?
Kim: Upfront, right wing. When I joined Teddington in 2012 I moved to left defender to mark my prefered position, coaches orders!
Sam: All over moving progressively backwards over the years
Parys: I started as a midfielder, later became a striker and ended my career as half....by my last season at Leicester I was a supersub- put meOn anywhere!!!
Ali: Midfield, sometimes defence
Me: I remember being called “Sniffer Seymour” at Maidstone for my goal scoring prowess as a youngster. From my international career you will see goal scoring was not a skill I held onto and I was much more suited to playing in midfield or defence.
What county/club/region or country did you play for?
Kim: Norfolk, Norwich Ladies, Loughborough University 2nds, Chiswick, Teddington
Sam: Bradford, Yorkshire, N-E England
Parys: I played Zimbabwe u18s, then switched allegiance after being selected for SAu21s. While in SA I played for Eastern Province and later Southern Gauteng. When I moved to the Uk I played for Leicester for 6seasons and returned to SA for our annual Interprovincial tournament to represent Natal for a few years.
Ali: West District/Western Ladies/Edinburgh Ladies/Giffnock/Scotland
Me: Maidstone, Canterbury, England and Great Britain
Did you swim, bike or run before or whilst you played hockey?
Kim: Nope although at school I swam in the school competitions
Parys: I loved running and was athletics and xcountry captain at school, but had never ridden a bike other then as a kid. I never swam as a youngster and my stepfather taught me enough not to drown when I was 8 (not much has changed since I fear!!), later I did a little bit of swimming as a last resort when I was injured- no wonder I had a negative association with it!!
Ali: Run and bike
Me: When I was younger I used to swim and run... Following in my older sisters footsteps.
What is your best hockey memory or achievement?
Kim: Hockey Tour to Canada and South Africa, what an opportunity!
Sam: Winning Uni Tour
Parys: Getting selected for the SAu21 team for the JWC in Korea- I had really battled with injury in the build up and it looked like it would never happen so it was a great feeling to hear my name being called out in the squad.
Ali: Commonwealth Games 2006
Me: World Cup 2010 - Argentina - Being part of the first female England squad to get a World Cup medal.
What do you miss?
Kim: The team environment, social evening training sessions and the boozy side!
Sam: The Banter
Parys: Some of the team banter....oh and getting a perfect reverse stick shot on goal- always a sweet feeling!
Ali: Big tournaments
Me: The team, big tournaments and the tactical side of the game.
What do you not miss?
Kim: Sore fingers when playing in the cold!
Sam: Defending short corners and broken fingers
Parys: The first 10mins of a training session in the dead of winter when your hands were so cold it felt like they would shatter as I hit the ball
Ali: Pitch sessions
Me: I agree with everyone above... Although sore fingers on a bike in winter is just as bad!
When and Why did you start triathlon?
Kim: September 2012 (although I took part at school a couple of times for fun when I was 16years old breaking the swim record for 400m). I read Chrissie Wellingtons book ‘life without limits’ on holiday in Thailand after Mum said… “do not read that darling otherwise you will start triathlon!”
Sam: In 2008 - It was a Drunken bet
Parys: In 2007 when I moved to London - I had always held a slight fascination with the sport and thought I might enjoy it
Ali: In 2008, It was a new challenge after giving up hockey
Me: I wanted a new challenge and a way to keep fit whilst working and studying full time. I did some 10k runs and got a bike to commute on... So it seemed the next obvious step!
Favourite training session and best discipline
Kim: My favourite session is rolling 400s in the pool, I always amaze myself! My best discipline since investing in a new bike appears to be the bike this season (2014)
Sam: long winter bike with coffee stop is my favourite session and the bike is my best discipline
Parys: love a tough intervals run session, especially with my current team mates Ness Raw and Tamsin Lewis as we all end up pushing each other, but if I'm honest nothin beats a long ride in the Surrey hills- that's an easy session for me to tick off especially if the sun is shining! The run was probably my best, but now the bike!
Ali: Interval run session is my favourite session and the run is my best discipline
Me: Running interval session - I like the pain and still feeling like I have some leg speed! The run is my best discipline, although the other two are catching up!
Kim: Kitzbuhel European AG Championships 2014
Sam: IMUK 2012
Parys: 70.3 world champs in Vegas in 2012- my first big win and I exceeded my expectations!
Ali: Ironman 70.3 World Championships Clearwater 2010
Me: Slateman 2014
What do you like about triathlon?
Kim: Hard work/ dedication/ hurt/ pain… I love it all!
Sam: Pushing myself
Parys: Its such a unique challenge- each discipline has it's own demands which I love. Also there is a fantastic camaraderie in the sport.
Me: The challenge of always having something to improve on in each discipline.
What don't you like about triathlon?
Kim: Swim starts, how on earth are they ever fun!
Sam: Obsessive triathlon chat and forums
Parys: The swim!!!
Ali:Long training hours
Me: Packing - there is so much kit to organise and bike mechanics/preparation.... Always get someone else to do it! The bike mechanics... NOT the packing!
What do you think makes a successful triathlete?
Sam: Commitment, selfishness and single minded attitude
Parys: An ability to endure pain.
Me: I think being physically robust is key to managing the training load and believing in the hard work on race day.
Which sport is more kit obsessed?
Kim: Triathlon for sure
Parys: Triathlon- it's a no brainer!! ( it's also vastly more expensive!!)
Me: I agree that triathletes are kit obsessed, but I know many a hockey player who were very fussy about their stick!
Were you always described as the fittest in hockey?
Kim: Yes, bambi was my nick name… I think it was the way I ran being one of the tallest on the pitch!
Parys: Yup- always the last one running on the good 'ol bleep test!
Me: As with the girls, I too based my hockey career on being able to run! Even if you lack the skills you can always run out of trouble, run out the way or run back to make a tackle!!!
Do you have any of the same superstitions pre race as you did pre match?
Kim: Nope none, completely different feeling. I was much more relaxed before a game of hockey. But I think that may be due to the standard I was playing. I had ambitions to play national league but triathlon took over when I was on the cusp!
Sam: Never put my playing/race top on until just before the start
Parys: I always memorise a race verse (from the bible) that I think about when I'm racing and I used to write one out and tape it to my shin pad for every hockey game. It's my way if keeping my sport in perspective.
Me: I always pack the night before, always arrive early and write little notes on my hand.... Normally a reminder to relax and smile!
Snow or sand?
Training or racing?
Mornings or evenings?
Coffee or tea?
Me: all together now.... COFFEE
Beer or wine?
Kim: Wine (tinto only)
Book or film?
Winter or summer?
Sam: Either, just not rain
Parys: Summer all the way
Starter or dessert?
Kim: Both… I absolutely love food and will never be thin!
Favourite sporting moment you have seen/watched
Kim: Athletics (track) always gets me, especially Mo at London 2012. I always get a tear when I see these athletes perform at such a level, inspiring!
Sam: Andy Murray winning Wimbeldon
Parys: I was fortunate to see lots of the London Olympic Games, it was incredible especially the athletics and so was seeing a few of my Leicester team mates win the Bronze medal.
Ali: Finishline at Hawaii Ironman at midnight
Me: Being part of London 2012.... An incredible few weeks experiencing every emotion possible and being truly inspired by all the incredible Team GB performances. Particular highlight was shouting at a TV screen as Mo smashed the 5,000m race
Future goals/ambitions in triathlon:
Kim: I was once told… ‘sky is the limit for you’ by Michelle Dillon and that is what I am sticking with!
Sam: AG Kona podium
Parys: After winning the world champs again last year I secured sponsorship and I'm racing pro this year. It's been an interesting journey so far and I've finished third in my first 2 races and I'd love to keep getting on the podium for the rest of them.
Ali: Win AG in Hawaii Ironman
Me: Reaching my potential
Interesting fact people do not know about you:
Kim: I spent my younger years at Great Ormond’s Street Children’s hospital undergoing complex heart surgery.
Sam: I turned down a place in 1D
Parys: I have an identical twin sister and when we were 21 we played hockey against each other for different countries - her playing for Zimbabwe and me representing SA. I spent most of the game worried she would get hurt (SA won 7-1 I think)
Ali: I played tennis at Wimbledon when I was young…. I was very young and it was an exhibition of "short tennis" with plastic racquet and sponge ball
Me: I'm left handed..... No excuses for anyone who says this is why they can't play hockey!!
It is not uncommon for people to take up different sports, or move across to a related sport. In fact we see very successful transitions and examples in sport all the time. People seem surprised at how hockey and triathlon are related, but the people I spoke to seem to share some common traits. Apart from all liking coffee, they all played sport from an early age, they all have big goals and ambitions and they all commented on the mentality needed to be a successful triathlete. Hockey is dynamic, quick and a game that lasts 70 minutes. This is bound to contribute to the physical capabilities. Having said that, the training is hugely different, and like the others I could not successfully play hockey now. Im not quick enough and the stop, start, change direction would kill me!
It has been great to reflect on my hockey playing days and hear about other people's experiences of dedicating themselves to a new sport. I will follow their progress and can't wait to see all the success they will have in the future!