A Day In The Life Of… Anna Flanagan
Ever wanted to step into somebody else’s shoes for the day and see what life is like as a magazine editor, a professional sportsperson or corporate high-flyer..? Well, SHESAID is giving you the closest thing to your very own Freaky Friday experience with our A Day In The Life Of… series.
Name and role
Anna Flanagan and I am a player for the Hockeyroos!
When did you discover your talent? Did you always want to be an athlete?
I wanted to be sportswomen from as soon as I could walk- meaning as long as I can remember! I picked up my first hockey stick at four and never looked back! I always wanted to represent Australia and go to the Olympics in something. I did tennis and athletics at national level until I was 15 and chose to give everything to hockey. I always loved the feeling of winning with a team and ultimately enjoyed the sport more. When I made my debut for Australia at age 18, I realised that just playing for Australia wasn’t the goal, but being the best was. Making the team [Hockeyroos] was only the beginning of a huge journey to the top.
Tell us a bit about your journey?
I was selected into the Australian squad when I was 17 and still at school. I came through the junior ranks with two national titles and Player of the Tournament in U18s/21s and in open Nationals before I was 20. My first foray into international hockey I was 16 playing for the U21 Australian team and therefore had to grow up pretty quickly. I moved over to Perth when I was 18 away from all my family and friends and had to learn to look after myself on the other side of the country, without knowing anyone well in the team. The first year I really struggled but had my studies to distract me from being so isolated. I was a late selection into the Commonwealth Games team in Delhi, and from this moment I new I wanted not only to win gold medals, but be the best in the world.
I worked really hard physically to earn my place as one of the main players in the team. I then at 20 years old, I was voted World Young Player of the year at the Olympic Games. This brought a lot more pressure to perform but none more than what I placed on myself. From back then, knowing no one the team is like my family now. We train together everyday and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Where do you find your inspiration? Who has had the most impact on you and your career?
My captain Madonna Blyth inspires me everyday at training to push harder and be the best you can. In other sports the females such as Jessica Fox, Caroline Buchanan and Anna Meares because they are pushing the boundaries of female sport and are good role models.
As an elite athlete, its not always bright lights and glory. How do you deal with the challenges and down times?
We train everyday so I definitely have those days or moments where I envy those with a ‘normal’ job. But I try putting it in perspective to realise not everyone can do what I am doing, and that the lifestyle is amazing and the feeling of winning with your team mates is the ultimate high.
Your workdays are much more exciting than the average 9 to 5. When you’re in hockey season, what does a typical day involve?
Of course there’s no such thing as a typical day but a standard training day would look something like this:
7am: Rise and shine, I like to have breakfast two hours before training so that it has time to digest before we start a heavy session.
9-11:30am: Full team training on the pitch where we have a mixture of strength, power, speed and endurance exercises built into our drills.
11:30am-12pm: Recovery and ice baths- submerging our lower bodies into freezing cold water to help relieve muscle soreness for the following day.
12-1pm: We have lunch together and a meeting to discuss the figures that we produced in the weeks training session on our GPS and heart rate, and talk about where we need to improve and work harder as well as highlight those who have done well.
1:30pm-3pm: We have gym that consists of Olympic lifting, heavy weights and a crossfit style of work-out, depending on the individual and their needs.
6pm: Is dinner and couch time as I am buggered from the big day of training!
9:30pm: Try to get in bed by this time so that I get enough rest to do it all again the next day!
What are your goals for the future?
My ultimate goal is to win Olympic gold… the pinnacle of our sport. Individually I want to be the best player I can in the best team I can… therefore the best player in the world in the best team in the world.
What advice would you give to someone following the same path as you?
Always look to better yourself in all areas as an athlete. Whether it be mental or physical or technical, push the boundaries and try do what others can’t. If you believe you can and do everything to achieve it, anything is possible. The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is good things don’t come easy. And if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. For anyone wanting to get into professional sport, I would say, you need to set goals, have a plan, be determined to achieve it and give 100%. But more than that, enjoy what you are doing, the more fun you have the more memories you make and the rewards are priceless.