“I feel I’m not finished in terms of the player I can be.”
After six months out with recurring ankle ligament damage, Susannah Townsend made her long-awaited return to the Great Britain squad in the double header weekend with Argentina and Belgium.
The long lay-off has been necessary to fix an injury that has plagued the Olympic gold medallist since 2017 but it has not been an easy time for Townsend.
“My knee injury after Rio was tough but it came at a good time. This is an injury I’ve had since the Europeans in 2017. It’s been something we haven’t been able to rehab properly until now. This is the first time we’ve been able to treat it, so instead of playing through little niggles I have been able to rehab instead.”
“Mentally it’s been a tough one to come back from and because I’m a little bit older it’s probably taken a little bit longer but I still feel like I can be better and fitter so it’s good I was able to come back. I’ve still got a way to go, though.”
Townsend’s experience will provide a welcome boost for a side undergoing a period of transition under new coach Mark Hager. The FIH Pro League has been a chastening experience for Great Britain so far but with four points gained over the previous weekend, the green shoots of recovery are starting to push through.
“I haven’t been around for the other games but I think we played a lot better than we have done. We had quite a few chances to score; we took the game to them and played attacking hockey which is what we set out to do. It sounds very cliché, the result against Argentina didn’t go our way but maybe we can look back on that and be a bit happier than we have with some of the previous performances.”
“Getting to the finals of the Pro League is a slim chance now but this tournament should be a good stepping stone into the Europeans and our end goal is Tokyo and getting there. We need to build on each game and keep getting better, see where that leaves us.”
Moving the focus away from the team and back to Townsend’s comeback, it is clear her determination is still as strong as it always was and her love for the game of hockey, despite some difficult times, still burns as brightly as ever.
“It feels really good to get back out there. Hopefully my brain will get a bit faster in terms of hockey and my confidence will start to come back. I felt my hockey was alright, some of my decision making could have been better but hopefully that‘ll come. I love hockey, though so it’s nice to be back.”
“When you’ve had a few injuries you do reassess why you do it. There were definitely some low days where I questioned why I was there and what I was doing it for but I really enjoy the game and I feel I’m not finished in terms of the player I can be. I feel like the potential of our side, despite our recent results, we’re a team who can compete for medals, so if I didn’t feel that I wouldn’t be here.”
Townsend is not done yet.