Sarah Thomas is Welsh Hockey’s golden girl. The country’s only representative in both Men’s and Women’s Great Britain squads at London 2012 and the first Welsh outfield player to compete at consecutive Olympic games, it is fair to say the former Rotterdam forward has a lot to be proud of.
Now, with Thomas embarking on the first chapter of her post-hockey life, her father Phil, has brought out a book, charting her rise from the wide-eyed 13-year-old who turned out for Dowlais Ladies to the star forward who scored goals in two Olympic Games competitions. The Top of the D caught up with her:
The Top of the D: Obviously London 2012 was a fantastic event and a great summer of sport. What has it been like returning to “normal” life afterwards?
Sarah Thomas: For a while my feet didn’t touch the ground and then all of a sudden they did with a bang. Fortunately I managed to get a job working with a Sports Recovery Company called Firefly, which is great as I am still linked to the sporting world and have meetings with sports people every day.
TTOTD: What have you been doing with your time?
Sarah Thomas: I must admit I have been enjoying having free weekends for the first time in 18 years. I still enjoy training, I think after all this time it’s programmed into me, so I feel better having been to the gym than not. However, work seems to take up a lot of time these days too!
TTOTD: Your Twitter biography describes you as a “Former GB and Wales hockey player” so what’s next for you? Will you be picking up a stick again, or is that it as far as hockey goes?
Sarah Thomas: I guess working for Firefly is my priority now. I am actually really enjoying it and hope that I can develop my business career in the next few years. I am a bit of a late starter to that world after spending all my time focusing on hockey and the Olympics. As of yet I have not picked up a stick since London. I can’t believe it’s six months already since my last game, especially as before that I had barely stopped for so many years. I hope at some stage to be involved in hockey again, but in what sense that will be, who knows?
Sarah Thomas: August 10th was pretty much the most perfect day. Blue skies, scoring a goal, winning a bronze medal and my family and friends all there watching. I guess that would have to be my fondest memory.
TTOTD: You were the only Welsh player in both the men’s and women’s GB squads. Was that something you thought about? Did it give you an extra sense of pride?
Sarah Thomas: It definitely makes me proud to know that I was able to fly the flag for Wales. Ultimately we play as GB so it wasn’t something I really thought about too much but the support I had from Welsh people was incredible.
TTOTD: Do you think there will be any Welsh players in the squads for Rio?
Sarah Thomas: If they get to experience what I have then I sincerely hope so. I know Hockey Wales are trying to make this happen, not just for Rio but beyond.
TTOTD: Your Dad has written a book about your journey to the Olympics. Just tell us a little bit about that. What does it cover? What insight does it give?
Sarah Thomas: It’s a heartfelt story from my Dad’s perspective. It gives you an insight into what parents go through along the way and gives you real life examples of the highs and lows of a hockey player’s career. It basically takes you from where I started to the end at London 2012, looking at things from both sides of the coin. It also guides parents on how to support their child to help make their dreams come true. For any athletes who wish to compete in an Olympic Games, it shows them it is achievable if you have the desire and determination to do so.
TTOTD: How did the idea for the book come about?
Sarah Thomas: My Dad is extremely proud of me and he just wrote things down bit by bit over the years. He ended up turning all of that in to something more real. People who have read it say they have found it extremely endearing.
TTOTD: How did it make you feel when you read it?
Sarah Thomas: I actually got very emotional. It takes me right back to each moment and how I was feeling as well as what was going on in my life. It’s lovely to think my Dad has taken the time to piece it all together.
TTOTD: Could you sum up why people would enjoy reading the book?
Sarah Thomas: Because it’s a down to earth, heartfelt story from a Dad about his daughter who achieved her dream. Everyone will be able to relate to it in some way whether they have played sport or they know someone who does. It enables you to have that rare insight, almost a behind the scenes account of what an international career is really like for the parents and children alike.
TTOTD: How would you like people in the hockey world to remember you?
Sarah Thomas: As the Welsh girl who loved the game from the beginning to the end and had a bit of speed and skill.
TTOTD: And finally, can you sum up why you love hockey?
Sarah Thomas: There is no better feeling than being out on the field with your team, pushing yourself past your limits and winning a game as a group. They are all incredible feelings and hockey gives them to you.
And so begins this new chapter in Sarah Thomas’ life. As she rightly says, she is a late starter to the world of business, but if she approaches it with anything like the determination she displayed as an international hockey player, she will doubtless conquer the business world like she did the sporting one.
If you would like to buy a copy of “From Tears to Cheers” by Phil Thomas, it is available here.
The Top of the D would like to thank Sarah Thomas for her time and effort in conducting this interview. I wish her every success in her future endeavours and hope to see her back in hockey soon.