Alex Danson - Hockey

First published in Sport

LOG on to the Trojans Hockey Club website right now and you will see the following message… “You should feel especially proud to be playing at a club who has produced one of the world’s best players and Great Britain international Alex Danson.”

While the Southampton -born 27-year-old will be going for gold in London this summer, it was at Stoneham Lane where her Olympic dream really began.

It was there, at the city’s best known hockey club, that Danson cut her teeth in the sport.

Since her days at Trojans, she has moved on to play for Slough and now Reading, blossoming into one of the sport’s most recognised faces.

Forward player Danson is a lynchpin of the English and British squads, having earned 176 international caps and scoring 50 goals in her career.

She is already a veteran of one Olympic Games, helping the Team GB women to a sixth place finish at Beijing 2008.

Since then, the squad has come on in leaps and bounds.

For the last three years, Danson and her colleagues have been part of a full-time centralised hockey programme at Bisham Abbey.

That has helped England – the home nations only come together as Britain in an Olympic year – to rise from ninth in the world ahead of Beijing to fourth now.

“We very much want to be successful in London so we needed more time together,” said Danson, who was part of the group that won silver at the prestigious Champions Trophy this year.

“The contact time we have together now is just incredible.

“All the staff and extra support we have is brilliant and ensures that we can go into these tournaments ready to really compete for medals – it’s an incredible situation to be in.”

Danson’s own personal run-up to London has been eerily similar to that of Beijing, though.

Four years ago, she had to overcome an ankle injury in the lead up to the Games.

This year, she suffered a damaged shoulder, after a nasty collision against Argentina in the Olympic test event in May.

Fortunately, though, there was no serious damage and Danson has declared she will be fit for the Games.

It’s a good thing too, because competing in London means the world to her.

“It’s a huge, unbelievable honour,” she said.

“As a child and as an athlete you dream of going to an Olympic Games, but to have the opportunity to play at the Olympic Games in your own country is simply incredible.”

Danson, who is almost always seen wearing her trademark beaming smile, is often heard describing her job as “the best in the world”.

But she nearly took her cheery demeanour down a very different career path.

“When I was younger, my first dream was to be a clown,” she revealed.

“I must have been eight or nine, and I got a clown outfit for Christmas.

“I did some kids’ parties, but then the hockey took over.”

Probably the right decision…

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