Adelaide Abroad: Jane Claxton

After bursting into the national field hockey scene in 2013, Adelaide born Jane-Anne Claxton has quickly become one of Australia’s top field hockey exports. With a Commonwealth Games Gold Medal under her belt and newly appointed title as captain of the Hockeyroos for the Trans-Tasman Trophy against New Zealand, it’s safe to say Jane-Anne is hitting some serious goals.

How did you first get into playing hockey?

I’ve always said that I didn’t select hockey, rather I was born into hockey. Not that I don’t love what I have been born into, but I was definitely predisposed to the sport from birth. My father has been involved in hockey, either coaching or playing since he was a teenager. So it was in my blood to achieve some type of success I guess.

You’ve spent that last couple of years travelling the world playing hockey. What has been some of your best highlights?

It does sound like a glamorous job when you put it like that but the reality of traveling and playing sport is that you get to see two things, the stadium (or hockey pitch in my case) and the hotel room. So many of the highlights often occur on the pitch, rather than seeing things as a tourist. My greatest highlights include winning a Gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – the feeling of standing up on the dais excepting my medal in front of my family was incredible – and standing on the Olympic hockey pitch in Rio for our first game singing the national anthem realising that I had finally achieve a dream I had since Sydney 2000.

Are there any challenges or downsides to travelling for hockey so much?

Whilst your teammates often become your best friends, even family in some cases, you lose the ability to have friends outside the sport. Furthermore moving to Western Australia in order to play Hockey at an elite level has made it even more difficult to maintain the friendship group I’ve had through school.

The other challenge is living a healthy lifestyle 24/7. It is a big adjustment to live every part of your life as a professional athlete, it not a normal job where you get weekends or public holidays, you don’t have days off. Even when we have breaks you are expected to come back fit or even fitter than you were before. It places a lot of strain on your body, mind and relationships.

How much hard work and dedication is required to be a professional hockey player?

In terms of dedication you have to be willing to give up everything and anything if you truly want to achieve the highest level of success. There is no limit to the amount of time and work needed to be at an elite level as it is continually rising, as you see each Olympic cycle when records get broken. For me the journey has been a 9 year process.

What is an average day look like for a professional hockey player?

Our training week is Monday to Saturday. Each day is a little different but there is a common theme across the week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are what we term “group competitive sessions” meaning the whole squad of 28 train together and it is often based around game play. These session last 3 hours, starting at 9am. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are skill development sessions, usually with 3 to7 people per group and you work on developing or refining individual skills. Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays we also have gym in the afternoons that can last between 1-2 hours. Fridays afternoons are reserved for Yoga as a way of rewinding from the training week.

Who are your biggest influencers and inspirations?

My influences are definitely my parents, they are the ones behind the scenes that have pushed me to succeed and continue through all the adversities that come with sport. They are often the ones at the other end of the phone that listen to me cry or complain and always remind me how few people get the chance I have. My inspirations come from previous players; particularly those whole played in the midfield and came from a smaller state like SA. Juliet Haslam was one of my childhood inspirations as we played the same position; I still look up to her but probably more for her leadership abilities and off field demeanour as well as being a fellow South Australian.

What are your future goals and aspirations?

Off the field – finishing my university degree (occupational therapy), as we travel quiet extensively throughout the year we are forced to do part-time university or defer subjects entirely.

On the field – this is my fourth year involved in the team and so I want to really start developing my baseline playing level. Producing consistent high-level performances throughout the year and tournaments. Typically it takes around 40-50 internationals games to understand how to perform at an international standard. Being a 100+ game player I want to now have more of an influence on the game and develop into a core and valued player within the Hockeyroos.

@janeclaxton

Jane during their Champions Trophy Game at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Stratford, East London, 25th June 2016.

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