An Interview with… Susannah Townsend

Susie Townsend is one of the bright new stars of England hockey. A midfielder by trade, her versatility and professionalism have earned her the Canterbury captaincy aged just 23.

Already an England international, the University of Kent student is targeting the Rio Olympics in 2016 with Great Britain.

She’s currently doing her dissertation examining the psychological impact of missing out on selection for London 2012. It’s fascinating and is well worth a read and listen.

I caught up with her at a Kent Sporting Legends Event at the University of Kent and asked her about her time in the summer and the table topping start that Canterbury have made to the season…

BC: What’s it like being here surrounded by all of these Olympians past, present and future. Does it make you really what you missed?

ST: To be honest, I haven’t really thought about the Olympics much. I was sitting there watching the montages all again and thinking ‘I really did miss out.’ Hearing other people speak about it, seeing how Will Bayley came away from it disappointed and is looking forward to Rio. He’s been to the Olympics but to some extent he’s in the same position. He’s looking to go to the next Olympics just like me.

BC: It was quite close to you making the team…

ST: It was very close. All of us trained up until the 27th July in case of injury, which you don’t wish on anybody. There was a long stage after not getting selected where it sunk in that we got back training and carrying on. You get over that. As cliché as it sounds, it does make you stronger.

BC: And fellow Canterbury player Natalie Seymour didn’t make the squad either but attended the Olympics as a reserve…

ST: She was in a really tricky situation. I can’t imagine how she felt. She was still effectively at the Olympics but not playing. It’s a very hard situation to be in. She’s still training during the Olympics. She’s taken some time out now to let it sink in. We hope for Canterbury’s sake that she comes back after Christmas and plays for us. She’s a big strength.”

BC: What has she been doing?

ST: She’s studying, working and doing a few triathlons. She’s very fit. Everyone in the squad has had a break including myself because you do need it mentally and physically.

BC: You’ve had the chance to recharge the batteries and you’re going brilliantly in the league at the moment…

ST: Top of the league. For our young guns and myself it’s a nice place to be. We would have loved to have played against Leicester but it’s not a bad thing that it’s after Christmas where we have a chance to rest a few players who are carrying injuries. We’re really happy with ourselves.

BC: You came so close last season finishing third…

ST: We haven’t been in Europe since 2007. I was still a bench player then coming on for 10 minutes a game. Now it’s very different for me. I have every faith that we can lead the team into Europe.

BC: What has changed this season?

ST: We’re a very attacking team. All guns blazing, we just go. Even Mel Clewlow, a defender, is one of the most attacking players in the league. The bond with Canterbury men and women helps on the pitch, because we’re very close off the pitch. Each year we do more things together as a team. It’s trust in each other. Steve Brown was saying he trusts every player on the pitch when he plays. He knows they are going to go out there and do a job, the best I can do. That’s how we feel when playing for Canterbury.