Regular readers of these pages will know that The Top of the D loves a good goalkeeper. Well, there are few better than Rachael Lynch. A Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Australian international, the 25-year-old Victorian has impressed all over the world since making her international debut at the 2006 Champions Trophy. The Top of the D fired some questions at her:
The Top of the D: What made you decide to start playing in goal?
Rachael Lynch: When I was 12 I tried out for the state team as both a goalkeeper and an outfield player. They picked me as a goalie so I decided to join a club. I’d never played hockey before but my primary school teacher encouraged me to try everything, which was great for me at such a young age.
TOTD: Who do you aspire to be like, and why? (Inside or outside of hockey.)
RL: Rachel Imison [former Australia goalkeeper] is an amazing role model and someone I’m inspired by. She reached the top of the sport in her position, whilst also maintaining a very active life outside of hockey. She proved that, although it’s hard, you could still work full time and play hockey at an elite level. [Imision is a Paediatric Prothetist/Orthotist for those who don’t know.]
TOTD: Who was your hero growing up and why? (Inside or outside of hockey.)
RL: I always looked up to my older brother. I wanted to do everything he did and be like him. I think he is the reason I am so into sport: He always tried out different sports, and always seemed to get me involved along the way.
TOTD: What is your proudest hockey moment to date?
RL: Winning Gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. I played in the final and helped our team win on strokes. It was an amazing feeling. The whole experience was a bit of a blur because it was so hot in India. However, I do remember having the girls run towards us to celebrate after Nicole Arrold scored the final stroke. I will never forget that day.
RL: Completing my university degree. I studied nursing full-time whilst training and competing with the Australian hockey team. We were away for up to three months of the year so keeping up with studying was very difficult. I had some really supportive lecturers and people who were committed to helping athletes like myself get a degree. I was very lucky, but I am also very proud of what I achieved.
TOTD: Who is your best friend in the Australia Squad?
RL: The girls are all great but I would probably spend most of my time with Stacia (Joseph), Emily Hurtz, Fi Boyce and Ash Nelson.
TOTD: How are your preparations for the Olympics coming along?
RL: It’s going well. We are training harder than ever and the squad is fitter, faster and stronger than any Australian team I have been a part of. The training sessions are really intense; we are filling our brains with knowledge on the other teams and our own tactics, whilst improving as a group every day. Personally it has been tough. We have 3 strong goalkeepers so obviously it is very competitive but I am very happy with the improvements I have made and I hope I make the final squad.
RL: We are full-time this year so completely focussed on hockey. Some days are lighter than others but a typical day will involve a two-hour training session in the morning, a break for breakfast or lunch, then specialist skills for an hour. We also do gym sessions three times a week, individual sessions, conditioning, rehab, physio and massage. After every session we also do ice bath recovery. It’s pretty full on.
TOTD: Which players should we look out for at the Olympics?
RL: There are some really strong players coming through our squad at the moment. The team as a whole is very competitive but we do have a couple of players who are exceptional: Madonna Blyth our captain and also Casey Eastham. They are world-class and bring some real strength and experience to our team.
TOTD: Which team will be the biggest threat to your medal hopes?
RL: Great Britain as the hosts will be quite hard to stop. The Netherlands are always strong, as are Argentina, the World Number One. The Olympics is all about who can perform consistently every game for the whole two weeks. It will be extremely competitive but I think we are in with a good chance.
TOTD: Finally, in one sentence, sum up why you love hockey.
RL: I get to compete for my country in the sport that I love whilst travelling the world with my friends.
The Top of the D would like to thank Rachael Lynch for her help and time in providing the answers for this article. I also wish her the best of luck as she pushes for selection for the Hockeyroos squad.
You can find out more about Rachael, as well as benefiting from her expertise by logging onto her website: http://www.rachaellynch.com.au/