Student Sport Quarterly: Lily Owsley

Updated: Apr 27, 2018

After each victory, the team would allow themselves 10 minutes of celebrating, before the focus was put onto the next game. All the preparation and focus proved to be worth it, finishing top of their Olympic group, followed by convincing victories over Spain and New Zealand, with a shoot-out final victory over the World’s number one team; The Netherlands. Owsley could find only one word to describe the games: “Perfect.”

Due to the team’s social media ban, Owsley had no idea of the support and excitement back in the UK. Her first taste was on the plane back, where there were newspapers laid out with GB from the front page to the back, with GB hockey often being the highlight. Owsley could not believe how Hockey was being perceived and how much it has now grown because of the games. The most important goal GB had throughout the tournament was to inspire the future. This was the one of the main reasons the team were in the Queen’s honours list, with Owsley being awarded an MBE: “I feel so proud to have an MBE, but part of me says: I’m a 22-year-old student! It seems a bit mad! Can I pop it on the end of my exams?!”

After creating history and being a member of the first Women’s Hockey team to win Olympic gold, you’d expect life to change a fair bit. For example, Sam Quek appearing in last years ‘I’m a Celebrity, get me out of here’ which brought her endless amounts of fame. But this wasn’t the case for Lily, just yet, as she was due to go back to university in September: “You can’t really glam a lecture up that much!”

Not only was university life the same after their success, but re-trialling began soon after the games for the next 4-year cycle, which was selected in January. The new players trialling were in their prime, not leaving much time for Owsley to rest on her laurels.

Now life has calmed down again since the Olympics, Owsley has been able to compete in BUCS again. Owsley is clearly a huge fan of the university competition and she is very proud to announce that she has only missed one game so far. Despite being away, with 2 other Birmingham team mates for the Quarter Final she was very confident that the Birmingham side would get through for her to return for the semi-finals: “The Birmingham girls are so great, this year I’ve been able to spend so much time with them, and I love BUCS!”

Although Owsley can play in the BUCS championship, she has a very different life to most BUCS players. Leading up to Rio she did not touch a drop of alcohol, and she missed every one of her friends 21st birthdays. Owsley herself understands that what some see as a sacrifice isn’t for her, as it is a choice – to try and succeed – something which her friends are very understanding of, which helps her love of Hockey continue to grow.

After the games, though, whilst Owsley had a little time to relax, she discovered the normal life of a student: “Oh my god, this is what Uni’s like! I definitely made the most of it. I was literally acting like a fresher.” But Owsley is more than happy to leave that lifestyle to the side, and she is definitely ready for what hockey has to bring her over the next few years.

In the newly selected squads, Owsley (now with over 90 caps to her name) is now somewhat of an experienced player, something she has previously not been used to. Owsley is definitely up for the challenge, with the next goal for the team to overtake the Netherlands and become the world number one; this is a task that is definitely not going to be easy now that team GB have become what Owsley describes ‘the hunted’ after the Olympic success.

Owsley is confident, though, with many young, talented players coming through the ranks. It is certainly an exciting time for England and GB hockey.

Owsley has had an incredible few years, winning EuroHockey gold in 2015, as well as being awarded the FIH female rising star award in 2015, followed by Olympic gold in 2016. Looking to her future, Owsley will graduate in 2018 or 2019 and will then look to go into hockey full time leading up to the 2020 games in Tokyo. After that, Owsley is looking to do a masters in the Netherlands, so that she can compete in what is seen as the best league in the world.

Owsley’s advice for anyone who wants to follow in her footsteps, or to succeed with any sport is to do you research and PLAN. Owsley recommends writing everything down. This will allow you to plan everything around training, which will give you more time than you thought you had.

“Just don’t expect it to be easy, nothing in life if you’re juggling two things are going to be easy. But enjoy the challenge.”