Field Hockey

Rachael Lynch
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Hockey field to hospital ward; Olympian’s life amid coronavirus pandemic

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PERTH, Australia (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic ended any chance of Rachael Lynch competing for Olympic gold in Tokyo this year. Now she’s switching into the medical mode to take on the virus.

Lynch, the goalkeeper for Australia’s women’s field hockey team, is a registered nurse.

So after the Olympics were postponed to July of next year, Lynch applied to work as a registered nurse at two COVID-19 clinics in the Western Australia state capital.

Lynch was already working a day a week in a neuro-rehabilitation ward — part of her of work-life balance with training for elite sport. She initially didn’t have any scheduled shifts last week because the national squad — the Hockeyroos — were supposed to be in Europe preparing for the Olympics.

“As soon as we finished up on Monday I went in and saw my boss,” the 33-year-old Lynch, rated among the best goalkeeper’s globally in the sport, told the Australian Associated Press. “They’re trying to recruit as many nurses and healthcare workers as they can, because they’re anticipating the load is going to be massive soon.

“For the first time since being a graduate, I’m able to work full time” as a nurse.

Lynch has been frustrated by seeing images of people gathering on beaches in parts of Australia and others of people not taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously enough, despite government policies to curb travel and ensure social distancing.

“Anybody in hospital for any reason, they’re now put at risk (because of that), Lynch said.

There have been more than 5,000 infections and 24 deaths in Australia during the coronavirus pandemic. Altogether, close to 940,000 people around the world have contracted the virus, according to a tally being kept by Johns Hopkins University. More than 47,000 people have died from the virus, which was first detected in China late last year.

Lynch said focusing on work meant she didn’t have time to dwell on missing an opportunity at the Olympics. The Australians were knocked out in the quarterfinals in 2016. With 150 international caps and a World Cup silver medal, Lynch is open-minded about her playing future.

“Most of the advice in the sporting world is to not make any big decisions now,” she told AAP. “I’ve reflected on the thoughts, words and emotions you might use to describe an Olympics being postponed.

“None of them are relevant now. You can’t say — devastated, disappointed or sad — because it just does not compare to what’s actually happening in the world right now.”

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Olympic champion field hockey player retires after freak head injury

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LONDON (AP) — A field hockey player who helped Britain win a gold medal at the Rio Olympics announced her retirement on Thursday after failing to recover from head trauma caused by hitting a brick wall hard while laughing at a joke.

Alex Danson-Bennett said her head injury had been life-changing “in terms of my perspective and things that have happened within my family.”

“It’s difficult because this has been my life,” said Danson-Bennett, a 34-year-old who co-led the last two Olympic tournaments in goals.

A key player for Britain when the team won Olympic gold in 2016, she was on holiday in Kenya with her now-husband, Alex, when she threw her head back to laugh at his joke and hit her head against a brick wall.

She suffered a mild traumatic brain injury, and said she had to spend 24 hours a day in bed for a few months and struggled to walk to the bathroom.

“I couldn’t bear light, sound, touch, anything,” she told the BBC in an interview. “It was almost like my sensory dials had been whacked up. Even holding a conversation, I’d have to talk very slowly.”

Danson-Bennett was told she would make a full recovery, and made changes in her personal life in an attempt to get back playing for Britain.

“Hockey has always been my priority, but I’ve come to that stage where I can’t do that and it wouldn’t be fair to the team,” she said.

Danson-Bennett said she will be Britain’s “No. 1 supporter” when the team tries to retain the Olympic title in Tokyo this year.

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MORE: Full list of U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. field hockey stars Lauren Crandall, Rachel Dawson retire

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Lauren Crandall and Rachel Dawson, who combined to play 577 times for the U.S. field hockey team since 2005, announced retirements Thursday.

Crandall and Dawson, both 31 years old, made their national-team debuts in 2005 and played in the last three Olympics. Crandall, Dawson and Katelyn Falgowski are the only Americans to play in three Olympic field hockey tournaments.

“Lauren and Rachel have been international powerhouses for an extended period,” U.S. coach Craig Parnham said in a press release.

Crandall and Dawson spearheaded a U.S. women’s field hockey program that made three straight Olympics after failing to qualify the previous three times (not counting its automatic spot at Atlanta 1996). The U.S. men’s team hasn’t qualified for an Olympics since 1956.

The U.S. women finished eighth at Beijing 2008, then last of 12 teams at London 2012. It rebounded to make the Rio Olympic quarterfinals, taking fifth overall with Crandall as captain for a second straight Olympics.

Crandall and Dawson were also part of Pan American Games gold-medal teams in 2011 and 2015.

Crandall was one of five nominees for the 2014 FIH Player of the Year.

VIDEO: Top field hockey moments from Rio