Lily Owsley wants a new crop of hockey stars to benefit from the same guidance that she did as the youngest member of Britain’s Olympic golden generation, writes TOM HARLE.
The Bristol star and Hockey Paper columnist is one of four survivors from the women’s side that won gold in Rio, carrying the flame alongside captain Hollie Pearne-Webb, Laura Roper and Giselle Ansley.
Now 28 and with two Olympic medals, Owsley’s aim is to maintain a movement at Paris 2024.
“My role has definitely changed,” she said. “In Rio I was lucky enough to be the ‘baby’ and be carried along with grit, determination and strong values in the group.
“Now my role is to try to replicate those values in the team and be a player in the team that people want to follow. I relish that role and I think I’ve got the experience to do it.
“I feel so lucky in what I’ve experienced in my career and I want the younger ones to experience what I did. That’s my drive at the moment.”
Owsley is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing her to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering medical support – this is vital for her pathway to the Paris 2024 Games.
In Rio, Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh became the first same-sex married couple to win Olympic gold as part of the same team.
Owsley, who was 21 and just graduated from the University of Birmingham when she made her Olympic debut, gives Helen a key role in her development.
“Helen was fiercely competitive,” she said. “She didn’t always say things in the nicest way but she pushed up standards. Her messages were direct and I thought she was being harsh at the time, but it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
“I was a cocky kid and naive to the reality of international hockey. Helen pushed me in training and on the pitch and I think we’re like-minded in that aspect. There would have been no-one better to learn from.”
With the Paris 2024 Olympics only one year away, the Games are set to inspire people and communities all across the country. Owsley hopes that by sharing her story it will give others motivation to get involved into sport.
Owsley is aiming for a third Olympics in Paris having backed up her 2016 feats with bronze at the postponed Games in Tokyo.
Unlike many a modern athlete, she’s focused on the outcome, not the process.
“I’m still driven and I still feel I can reach the highs that we did in Rio,” said Owsley. “I’ve been desperate to feel that again.
“Every day I’m motivated by winning and the opportunity we have with the group. At first my motivation was to go to the Olympics, but then you become addicted to the feeling and that means I struggle to think about stopping.”
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