Anna Flanagan might only be 23 years old, but what she’s achieved on a global sporting stage to date is nothing short of phenomenal.
The Canberra-born Hockeyroo, who was crowned field hockey World Player of the Year in 2013, was just 17 when first called up to join the Australian national team in 2009, and already has a Commonwealth Games gold and fifth place at the last Olympics under her belt.
She’s applauded in sports circles for her focus, determination and prowess on the field, but interestingly, is quickly becoming as well known for her fashion influence, model looks and warm, relaxed attitude. We’re given a glimpse of this relaxed attitude in a new content series by Nike that explores a number of athletes lifestyle out of the spotlight to celebrate the latest Nike Tech Pack release. We spoke to the popular athlete, who supports a wide range of charities on her website, about her passion for fitness, fashion, smart nutrition, skateboarding, her adopted hometown of Perth and the intense lead-up to chasing Olympic gold in Rio next year. We guarantee you’ll be as inspired and motivated after reading as we were…
Q: How old were you when you started playing hockey and what do you love most about the game?
“I was four years old when I started playing and my whole family was involved. The sport is so inclusive and I love the competitiveness, comradery and community around it. I’m competitive, so of course I love winning [but] it’s more about the feeling of your hard work paying off though.”
Q: Can you talk through a typical week fitness- and training-wise?
“We train every day, but since hockey is a mix of fitness, speed and strength we do a number of different types of training. We do three gym sessions a week, ranging from heavy weights to a CrossFit type of training. In addition to that we spend two to three hours playing hockey, and two to three running sessions on top of that. Then sometimes we will have a yoga session at the end of the week as a bit of a mental wind-down. It’s a full time job for all of us in the squad. In the downtime between training we rest and recover to make sure our bodies are ready for the next session.”
Q: What’s your philosophy when it comes to food? Do you follow a particular diet or plan?
“Generally we follow a pretty strict and healthy diet to get the most out of our bodies. Our philosophy around food and training is about balance though, so we allow ourselves a treat now and again.”
Q: What’s your go-to meal or drink after a workout?
“I like to have a protein shake after a really heavy workout. Before I train, I make sure to have an easy snack like a protein ball that will give me a hit without making me feel too full.”
Q: How is your training and nutrition changing, if at all, in the lead up to Rio Olympics?
“It’s getting more intense and more strict. Fitness test results are important, but so is feeling prepared within yourself. If you know you have prepared properly, it’s one less thing to worry about in a high-pressure situation like a big tournament. We are stricter with our nutrition as training gets more intense; you need to be getting the right foods in to make sure you can back up sessions and recover properly.”
Q: What did you learn at the last Olympics that will help you going into Rio?
“Having that experience under my belt has given me the exposure and confidence to play in front of big crowds and under a lot of pressure. Now that we are ranked second in the world and have a real shot at the gold medal, I am really focused on making the most of the hard work we are putting in in the lead up.”
Q: Do you get nervous before big games or competitions? What do you do to steady your nerves and relax?
“I definitely get nervous! I try to use that adrenaline to my advantage, in a positive way. If you’re getting tired you can use nerves as energy. Before a match I speak to teammates and listen to music to keep my energy high but positive.
Q: What’s the greatest sacrifice you feel you’ve made in the pursuit of Olympic gold?
“Sacrifice maybe isn’t the best word for it. I feel that I’ve just chosen another path to pursue another dream. I studied media and would like to be a sports journalist, but this is a full time job for now and the path I have chosen. I don’t regret it for a second!”
Q: What do you do to relax and do you find it easy to switch off?
“I’m so busy and I like doing a lot of different things and continually trying to improve myself in areas other than hockey, so I find it hard to switch off. To relax, I like going to the beach, skateboarding, being in the sunshine and the outdoors.”
Q: We see in this NIKE video you’re a skateboarder. How did that first come about? Who taught you and what do you love about it most?
“During a break one summer, my boyfriend – who is an artist and designs skateboards – gave me a skateboard and taught me. I’ve loved it ever since.
Q: What’s your typical off-duty (weekend) wardrobe style?
“Even though I am in performance gear most of the week when I’m training, I still lean towards stylish sportswear on the weekend. There are so many cool styles out there now that this has become my off-duty wardrobe. I’m still so active in my downtime that it’s really important to me to be comfortable.”
Q: Who inspires you most in a health or wellbeing sense and why?
“Other female athletes, like Sally Fitzgibbon for example, inspire me. I follow their social media channels and I think how they encourage a fit and healthy lifestyle by striving to be their own best version of themselves is really cool.”
Q: What are your favourite beauty brands and do you follow a particular beauty routine?
“I’m out exercising most days and sweating quite a bit, so in those situations it’s important to have a fresh face so my skin can breathe. That also means that I love putting on some makeup every now and then—MAC makeup is probably my favourite brand.”
Q: What are you reading right now?
“I just finished Justin Langer’s book Seeing the Sunrise.” (Motivational life lessons and observations from one of Australia’s most respected cricketers.)
Q: What do you hope to be doing when you eventually retire from hockey?
“I love sport and I love fitness and I did study journalism a few years ago, so I would love to be sports journalist and continue promoting sport female sport in particular.”
Yoga or Pilates? Yoga
Meditation or a run? A run
Coffee or juice? Coffee
Trainers or heels? Trainers
Tights or tracksuit? Tights
Cocktail date or breakfast date? Breakfast
Drama or comedy? Comedy
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset
Ear buds or headphones? Headphones
Party or DVD? Party
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