Friday, June 14, 2024

Sam Ward: I can inspire others to tell them hockey dream is never over

Great Britain Hockey double Olympian Sam Ward on idols, wearing a mask, how working in car industry prepared him for a sporting life and his philosophy after career-threatening eye injury

Sean Kerly was the one I looked up to. I started my career at Leicester HC and he arranged to come down to do a shooting competition at St Margaret’s Pasture in Leicester. He might have let me beat him.

My first memory of watching hockey at the Olympics came at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Back then, playing for GB wasn’t something I ever expected. 

I then got to work for five years [in the car trade] and it gave me lots of life experience. It has taught me lots now as an athlete too. It’s great that I’ve come through late in the ranks and hopefully it can inspire others when they don’t get picked for the under 21s and above. With anyone coming through I would like to support them and tell them that the dream isn’t over.

Nothing has changed in terms of the loss of vision, that is there for good. I saw numerous people and neuro specialists to try and get the brain thinking differently. I am getting stronger as a person and now I am only thriving off it and using it in the best possible energy.

The night terrors? Well, I like to say they have been put to bed.

Jip Janssen got in touch to say congratulations on Olympic selection as we both wear masks when we play now. We spoke after his incident [Jip received a ball to his eye in April and feared he may go blind].

It is one of those things that through adversity it brings people together and it’s great to see him ripping the goals in.

Sam Ward, right, admitted to emotional day on club return PIC: Instagram/Sam Ward

It’s been challenging over the last few years. But we’ve got Kwan Browne as a GB assistant coach. He has spent a lot of time with me and worked on all sorts of interesting little things that are different; to work on someone who isn’t the most naturally gifted man with the touch to create and have more feelings with the ball. 

It will be a case of gripping it and ripping it [with the penalty corners], and being as physical as possible in Tokyo. Maybe I do make small alterations with my body. But I don’t think I do or notice it as I just go off instinct. Six goals in five games [at EuroHockey 2021) means that I can only take that confidence moving forward.

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