The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are just 217 days away, and it is now time for complete and utter focus for those athletes that are training to compete at Tokyo in the summer. Anna Toman is one of the elite athletes that is preparing for the famous sporting tournament and she, alongside her GB team mates are hoping to replicate their famous Women’s Hockey Gold Medal from Rio 2016. The Guide talked to Anna Toman to find out the details of being a professional sportswoman and the demanding life of an international hockey player.
When did you decide on being a professional hockey player and what did that commitment involve?
“I played for England at U16, U18 and U21 level so it has always been my dream to represent England and GB at senior level. However, the majority of athletes don’t actually make it all the way to the top so I always knew it would be extremely difficult. The moment I truly decided was when I got invited for senior trials after the 2016 Rio Olympics, because at this stage I knew it was actually a possibility. Like every sport at this level it takes a monumental amount of commitment. It completely consumes your life and you have to sacrifice a lot. The way we train and push ourselves and our bodies nearly every day is something no one can ever prepare you for.”
What are the challenges to being a professional sportswoman at the moment?
“I cannot wait for the day/if that day ever comes that this question doesn’t even have to be asked. Hockey as a sport struggles enough to get exposure in the media. Also, our paychecks are certainly not the same as other sports. So being a female on top of that has it challenges. We want to be taken just as seriously as all other male athletes. We want to attract just as many people to watch and enjoy our sport. If we could finally get to a place where female athletes were getting paid just as much as males that would certainly be a huge step forward!”
In terms of the Olympics, how will you go about preparing for it individually but also as a team?
“We have been training nearly every day for the past 3 years as a squad with the Olympics being our ultimate goal, so nothing too much day to day will change for us. We will, however, be adding in some different types of training that not many of us have done before, such as heat chamber training. Tokyo is going to be one of the hottest and most humid Olympic Games to date, so we have to be prepared for that. We will be pushing each other to the absolute limit over the next few months to put us in the best possible shape for Tokyo in the summer.”
Preparation for games is a key part of sport. Is there anything particular you like to do before games and is there anything you would suggest for up and coming sportsmen and women to do prior to games?
“Once all our team meetings have been done before a match, I actually like to switch off slightly from hockey. I trust that I have done absolutely everything I can to put me in a position that I can compete to the best of my ability. I often just listen to music and chill out for a bit and try not to get too hyped up too early for the match. Every single athlete has different routines they like to do before a game. All I can advise is that you find the right thing for you, and try different ways until you find what suits you best.”
What do you think hockey has taught you most and if there is anything you could tell your teenage self what would it be?
“I think it would definitely be to work hard and push myself to my limits, particularly since being in the senior GB program. There have been times I have definitely thought and felt my body was never going to get through certain training sessions, but you always seem to find a way both physically and mentally. So I would tell my teenage self to never doubt my own ability to push myself through the pain, and don’t underestimate what you can achieve.”
How do you deal with pressure in and before games?
“I am quite lucky to be able say pressure doesn’t really affect me as an athlete. Since a very young age and no matter what level I’m playing, I have always had a very calm, composed nature about me. Its something I certainly don’t take for granted, as I know a lot of athletes can struggle with nerves in high-pressure situations. I feel that if you go into a match fully prepared, then there is nothing to worry about and you should just let your play do the talking.”
What would you say your greatest achievement is in hockey to date? And what would you still like to achieve?
“I felt like my overall greatest achievement is to just to be representing my country at senior level, in the sport that I love. It is something I dreamt of as a child. Some moments that have really stuck with me though, are representing England at a home World Cup, something that not many athletes get the opportunity to do. Also winning a Commonwealth Games Bronze Medal was definitely a very special moment. My focus and dream for the next 7 months is ultimately to get selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, and represent Team GB on the biggest stage in our sport.”
Without doubt, Anna Toman is leading the way in women’s hockey and is an ambassador for equality within sport. Her journey towards Tokyo 2020 is inspiring and the commitment and dedication that athletes invest in their dream of competing at the Olympics is amazing.
Thank you to Anna for her time and make sure to keep an eye out for her name in the summer!