Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Alex Danson returns to GB Hockey squad after ‘awful head injury’

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Rod Gilmour
The Hockey Paper's Editor. First covered international hockey at the 2010 Commonwealth Games - no better than a full house watching India play England - and has reported for the Daily Telegraph and other major newspapers ever since. Co-founded THP in 2016.

In a hugely positive statement, Alex Danson, the GB captain, announced on Friday that she would be rejoining the Great Britain Hockey programme on Monday in a bid to make the team for Tokyo 2020.

Her social media post was a major boost following 18 months out of the game after her “awful head injury” and the feeling that it would still be some weeks before the 34-year-old could return to contact hockey.

But the fighting GB forward, who has worked hard to regain full fitness in recent weeks, said: “The last 18 months have tested me to perhaps my limits, with my health, isolation and inability to do the things I used to do with such ease.

“I’m still not 100% but with time running out before the Tokyo Olympics now is my last chance to see what I can do.”

Danson’s recovery from a head injury sustained on holiday in 2018 has been well documented as she bid to highlight her mild traumatic brain injury to a wider audience.

Having endured months of headaches which forced her to spend hours at a time in a darkened room, she was only able to run 30 minutes for the first time after ‘one year and 37 days’.

In August, her triathlete younger sister, Claire, was then left paralysed following a collision on her bike with a tractor. Since then, the pair’s rehabilitation story has been an inspiration to many.

Danson’s announcement saw her pay tribute to her husband, Alex, who “has lived every second of this awful head injury with me. It’s not been easy, but through it all you always believed this day would come.”

In a message to her team-mates, Danson, who last played at the 2018 Women’s World Cup, added: “I’m not who I was, I have a richness of experience that only these last long months could have given me. I was determined that I would take more from this experience than it would take from me, I have.

“Every moment we have whether as a hockey player or in life, is a gift. An opportunity to move forward, to try, to be and to explore. But these moments are truly made by the people you share them with, I can not wait to be back with you all.”

Danson, who has yet to play under new coach Mark Hager, added that 2019 represented the first time that she had failed to play a game of international hockey in her 17-year playing career.

Friday’s news suggests that 2020 will be different.

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