Q&A with Silver medallist Alex Danson

Wed 8th Feb '12

Alex Danson 3

Sky Sports Living for Sport mentor Alex Danson tells Oli Burley about the Champions Trophy in Argentina, where Great Britain’s women hockey team made history by winning silver…

Oli: Many congratulations, Alex. How does it feel to come home with that medal?

Alex: I’m immensely proud to be part of this team – it’s incredible to finish in silver position at one of the best tournaments in the world…

Oli: I sense a ‘but’ though…

Alex: When we lost to Argentina we were so disappointed. It was strange because we’ve never been in a Champions Trophy final before. But every single one of us is so dedicated to what we do that losing was hard to take. I think that bears testament to how high we set our standards.

Oli: Some 110 goals were scored in the tournament overall – the most ever. Is this a good time to be a forward?

Alex: Definitely. The game is so quick these days, it is such an energetic and counter-attacking sport, that more and more gaps are opening, which is great for us players and great for people watching.

Oli: Your team-mate Crista Cullen scored five times to finish as the tournament’s joint top-scorer. Just how good is she?

Alex: Crista is our short-corner specialist. The way she can put them in the back of the net is just incredible. We’ve trained really hard at our corners back in Bisham Abbey and it paid off – Crista was on fire!

Oli: The stats show that work paid off as the team scored the most penalty corner goals in the tournament, notching eight, but conceded only one of 28 attempts…

Alex: We spend hours every week drilling short corners, whether it’s in beautiful sunshine or the pouring rain. Doing those drills is the difference between winning and losing. We practice defending against our attack every day and it’s paying dividends – although it does help having world class defenders in the net!

Oli: Who really stood out this time?

Crista is so good at running out at corners that people just don’t have the chance to get their shot away; we’ve also got one of the best goalies in the world in Beth Storry, while our post player Helen Richardson has got such an incredible eye.

Oli: So the secret is talent and hard work?

Alex: Whenever I go to schools for Sky Sports Living for Sport I always say the most talented people aren’t always the most successful. It’s the ones that work hard and love what they do.

Oli: How tough was it to play that semi-final against Germany - the temperature was topping 40 degrees in Rosario, wasn’t it?

Alex: I have to say it was hard. We are probably the best-conditioned team in the world and we struggled. That was the only thing that kept us going; we knew that if we were struggling, the opposition was really struggling. We have that mental edge because we are so well-prepared physically but those were some of the hardest conditions I’ve ever played in.

Oli: How did it feel to win 2-0?

Alex: Incredible because we were so desperate to make the final. We showed great professionalism in the way we prepared for the game, then we went out and did a job. It was the most incredible feeling when the whistle went. We all ran on and were over the moon. It was a huge step in our preparation going forward.

Oli: Given the extreme conditions, how did you kick back between games?

Alex: Recovery time was really essential, so I spent a lot of time with my room-mate watching West Wing! We also did a lot of pool work to make sure we were in shape for the next game.

Oli: The GB Hockey website describes one of your two goals against Korea in the quarter-final as “a fantastic reverse stick shot against the goalkeeper into the far corner”. Was it as good as it sounds?

Alex: I wasted many hours as a kid practising that shot over and over again so I was over the moon when it went in!

Oli: You finished the tournament with three goals. Were you pleased with your form?

Alex: To be honest I don’t mind who scores as long as we score one more than the opposition! But as a forward you want to have chances and I was disappointed not to have more. We’ve got five-and-a-half months until the Olympics and we’ll work very hard at improving that area.

Oli: Do you honestly believe that greater things lie ahead this year?

Alex: I really hope so. I’m sure we will train harder than anyone else in the coming months. That’s what’s really special about our group and hopefully it will give us that crucial edge.

Visit Alex's Athlete Mentor page to see her video

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