EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Team GB Olympic gold medal winner Hannah Macleod impressed with the Christie Championships
Hannah Macleod was part of the Team GB hockey team that won gold in Rio in 2016 and bronze at London 2012.
The 33-year-old, who won 88 England caps and a further 65 for Team GB before retiring twelve months ago to become coach of England’s under-21s, is now an ambassador for Aldi and their graduate scheme, which sponsors the Christie Championships. AU vice-president Matt Addison went to speak to her.
Macleod said: “[I’m here for] the partnership between Aldi and the British Olympic Association. They have been partnered with us for a number of years now, and part of that is around bringing home-grown athletes into the community.
“We spent a bit of time with the first and second hockey teams, running some skills sessions. We’re mainly here to introduce the grad scheme which is a fantastic opportunity for students. We’re building on that partnership.”
She was impressed with the standard of sport, and also the pride which students take when representing their institution.
She said: “I’ve watched a lot of the women's games. They’re certainly played in good spirit, that's for sure – they’re competitive.
“I love all sports. I’ve watched a bit of the rugby. I didn’t realise, being from a bit further south, how historical this event was. I didn’t realise it had been going on quite so long.
“It’s so nice to see how quite how much it means to everyone, and there’s so many people talking about it.”
The former Loughborough University student, who was presented with an MBE at Buckingham Palace in March 2017, has fond memories of her time as an undergraduate.
She said: “At Loughborough, we never had anything like this. I played in what is now BUCS. Our hockey team in particular was very successful. We won it [BUCS] ten times in a row, and I was captain in the last year – there’s nothing more stressful than that.
“My memories are very fond, though. I have people I'm still in touch with from those university teams. The big matches mean so much. [Being here today] has brought back some happy memories of university hockey and the camaraderie.”
Now retired from professional hockey, Macleod has taken up a new sport, and will be running the London Marathon this weekend.
Macleod explained: “I'm running for a charity called BEAT. I was a nutritionist earlier on – years and years ago now, there were some courses run by them about athletes with eating disorders, so I’ve known about them for a long time.
“Having been involved in sport, and seeing teammates drop out of sport through eating disorders, and now as a coach, being able to raise awareness and getting players to be supportive of each other [is great].
“I’ve learnt a lot about the charity. It’s been really good being able to work with them. Ultimately, it means I'm responsible for somebody, so in terms of all my training, I just don’t want to let them down.
“Coming from a team sport, where you’re responsible for all the people around you and you’ll let everyone down if you don’t do the training, when I'm out on the streets on my own, as an individual athlete preparing for the marathon, it’s been nice to have a really good cause.
“I could do with it not being tropical. We’re used to playing matches in about 42°C – you can do it, but it’s just not pleasant.”
Hannah Macleod was speaking at the Christie Championships, which the University of Liverpool were hosting and won for the first time since 1991.
By Matt Addison
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