Jane Clax­ton: Hockey player.

Jane Clax­ton, 26, hockey player 2017 Hock­ey­roos Player of the Year, 2014 Glas­gow Com­mon­wealth Games gold medal­list, 2014 World Cup sil­ver medal­list

The Saturday Paper - - Contents | The Week - Cindy MacDon­ald

When I was younger I played ev­ery sport un­der the sun. I did a lot of cross-coun­try and ath­let­ics and swim­ming but I found that you just got so iso­lated. So I grav­i­tated to­wards a team sport and hockey was in my fam­ily so I did that. I didn’t know un­til I moved to Perth that Clax­ton is ac­tu­ally a name in base­ball [with the Clax­ton Shield], so that’s very in­ter­est­ing.

My dad is a mas­sive hockey lover – he played all lev­els of state hockey and made the over-60s Aus­tralian team as well as coach­ing a lot of the Aus­tralian Hockey League se­nior men’s teams across the North­ern Ter­ri­tory and South Aus­tralia. So when we were lit­tle my brother and I would spend most week­ends watch­ing him play.

I started in Minkey [mini hockey] when I was seven. Sim­i­lar to me, my brother Matthew, who’s two years older, played all through juniors in state teams and then rep­re­sented South Aus­tralia at a se­nior level. He got to play for the Aus­tralian in­door team last year and also played in the Aus­tralia A team a few times in Test matches against the Kook­abur­ras.

I got a schol­ar­ship into the Hock­ey­roos squad in Perth when I was 20 – in 2013. That same year I got to de­but against Korea – which was a mas­sive shock be­cause I thought I was just com­ing over to sit on the bench – and the fol­low­ing year I got to go to the Comm Games and World Cup. So it was a crazy first two years of my Hock­ey­roos ca­reer, win­ning gold in Glas­gow and sil­ver in the World Cup.

The Olympics is def­i­nitely a hall­mark event, so after­wards you lose a lot of se­nior play­ers [through re­tire­ment] and you face a few years of de­vel­op­ing younger play­ers in terms of ex­po­sure and ex­pe­ri­ence. That’s prob­a­bly the pe­riod we’re in now, which lines up pretty well with Tokyo 2020. It’s a great time frame to be ex­pos­ing juniors to se­nior in­ter­na­tional hockey. Purely for ex­pe­ri­ence, I think to win a medal at the Olympics you need for more than half your team to have over 100 Test caps [Jane has 150]. So hope­fully the Hock­ey­roos are on track to hit that mile­stone when Tokyo comes around.

We have high ex­pec­ta­tions of our­selves and at the Olympics you al­ways want to win a medal. With the quar­ter-fi­nals, if you lose that one game, you’re out. So it’s def­i­nitely a high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tion and prob­a­bly in Rio we weren’t used to that. But los­ing in the quar­ter­fi­nals is some­thing we’ve learnt a lot from. We now know how much we have to value the quar­ter-fi­nal – if you can win that you’re through to the top four and it makes all the round games ir­rel­e­vant. I was play­ing a club game midyear back in Perth and I’d had a tight ham­string lead­ing into it but I didn’t think any­thing of it. All I did was lunge for a ball and I had this ex­cru­ci­at­ing pain, but I was like, “Oh, it should be okay, I’ll run it out.” The next day I couldn’t walk and I knew it was some­thing se­ri­ous. I got a scan two days later and they said I’d pulled half of my ham­string ten­don off the bone. I’d never ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing that knocks you out of a ma­jor tour­na­ment [the World Cup], so that was some­thing new to deal with. But I’m a big be­liever that things hap­pen for a rea­son and I think po­ten­tially I needed that break from hockey to reignite my pas­sion and look at what I’ve done so far in my ca­reer and re­alise how spe­cial it is and ap­pre­ci­ate it a lot more.

Do I think mid­field­ers some­times don’t get as much glory? Oh, for sure! But strik­ers have to have a cer­tain per­son­al­ity where they need all that at­ten­tion, whereas us mid­field­ers, we just get the job done.

I’m in my last year of study­ing oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy at Curtin Univer­sity so the sil­ver lin­ing to be­ing in­jured and not go­ing to the World Cup was that I got to do one of my pracs for uni. As an elite ath­lete you don’t get much time to work full-time hours. Hope­fully I’ll fin­ish my de­gree by the end of next year. It’s a long process and you do have to un­der­stand that as an ath­lete if you want some­thing out­side of your sport, it’s on your­self to do it and it’s a long process and you have to be quite per­sis­tent, oth­er­wise when you quit your sport you have noth­ing.

Prior to get­ting two sausage dogs – Harry and Hugo – I didn’t know how much of a crazy dog lady I would be. I got one to start with and at the end of last year

I got a sec­ond one. I didn’t re­alise I could love two lit­tle, ob­nox­ious, self­ish sausage dogs so much. It’s been quite an ex­pe­ri­ence. They pro­vide me with a lot of en­joy­ment and hap­pi­ness in my life out­side of hockey and are a dis­trac­tion from the stress of be­ing an elite ath­lete.

It’s prob­a­bly the de­ci­sion in my life that I’ve made that I’m most thank­ful for, even though they do chew up ev­ery­thing in my house and de­stroy all the nice things.

I’m for­tu­nate to have fam­ily mem­bers who are all just pas­sion­ate about hockey so that’s been a driv­ing force be­hind me be­ing suc­cess­ful. I think a lot of peo­ple at­tribute it to coaches – and I’ve had amaz­ing coaches over the years – but if it wasn’t for Mum and Dad and their de­sire and knowl­edge about hockey, I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have been as in­ter­ested in it. A lot of the time elite ath­letes have to credit their par­ents be­cause they are the ones get­ting up at 5am to drive their kids to train­ing and tour­na­ments. You don’t re­alise un­til you’re

• older and have to drive your­self at 5am how bad it is.

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