Now that the dust has settled after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, among the celebrations of medals a Hockeyroos legend has made history.
After guiding the all-conquering Netherlands Women’s Team to gold in Tokyo, Alyson Annan became the first woman to win an Olympic Gold Medal in hockey as a player and then as a coach.
Renowned as one of the greatest players of her time and one of three Hockey Australia Legends, Annan was a member of the Hockeyroos’ Gold medal winning teams in 1996 and 2000.
Now she has a third Olympic gold medal to add to the collection, achieving the pinnacle of world hockey as a head coach.
Upon reflecting on her historic feat, the 48 year old who scored 166 goals in 228 appearances for the Hockeyroos was quick to deflect the plaudits.
“It’s nice, but it’s not why I do this,” Annan said.
“My goal as a coach is to hopefully be a part of someone’s career and have them look back and say, ‘that was a great time and I learned a lot and I became a better player and a better person’.”
Technically Zimbabwe’s Anthea Stewart achieved the feat when she was a player/coach at the improvised 1980 Moscow Olympics (note – captain/coaches were common in many sports in that era). But Annan is the first to do it as one or the other.
After being appointed the Netherlands’ national women’s coach in 2015, Annan almost accomplished the player/coach double at the Rio 2016 Olympics, only for Great Britain to condemn the Dutch to silver.
Since then the Netherlands have won back-to-back EuroHockey Nations Championships, the 2017 World League, 2018 World Cup, 2018 Champions Trophy and the 2019 and 2020 FIH Pro League titles.
Heading into the Tokyo Games as raging favourites, Annan and the Netherlands took all before them and proved a class above to claim gold and add to Annan’s ever-growing list of accolades.
Four men have achieved the Olympic gold medal player and coach feat. Pakistan’s Manzoor Hussain Atif won gold in 1960 as a player and then coached his home country to success in 1968.
Ali Dara was a member of India’s triumphant 1936 team before masterminding Pakistan’s 1960 gold medal as a coach.
Dharam Singh Gill won gold for India as a player in 1952 and then as a coach in 1964, with his countryman Balkrishan Singh doing similar in 1956 and 1980.