No Commonwealth Games but Hockeyroos Olympic door open for Anna Flanagan

No Commonwealth Games but Hockeyroos Olympic door open for Anna Flanagan

She might not be going to her third Commonwealth Games, but Canberra hockey star Anna Flanagan says the Olympic door is open.

Flanagan was overlooked for the Hockeyroos' 18-woman squad named on Friday for the Games on the Gold Coast next month, but she returned from a camp in Perth feeling positive about her prospects for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Anna Flanagan says the Olympic door is open despite missing Comm games.

Anna Flanagan says the Olympic door is open despite missing Comm games.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

As part of the national development squad, the 26-year-old was out west helping the Hockeyroos get ready for the Commonwealth Games.

She'll also head up to the Gold Coast to play a few pre-Games friendlies and then stay around as a spectator.

After a tough 2016, which almost saw her step away from the game for good, Flanagan's back in a good head space and was looking forward to trying to force her way back into the national squad before Tokyo.


"I wasn't really in consideration for Comm Games selection. Although I'd love to be there that one was totally expected," Flanagan said.

"By no means is the door closed for me, actually I'm in a place where I will hopefully get that opportunity.

"I had my disappointment at the end of last year when I was sort of expecting to make the national squad after my national league.

"Mentally I'm in a completely different head space in terms of going forward and not rushing or putting that pressure on myself."

Along with the friendlies, she'll have the new-look Australian Hockey League to continue to press her claims for an Australian return.

It will be in a home-and-away type format with teams reduced to nine-a-side - a concept that excited Flanagan.

While she's eligible to play for NSW because she's part of their academy of sport, she'll play for the Canberra Strikers.

"It's going to be live-streamed and hopefully Canberra gets some games. It'll be a lot more competitive because national players will go into the draft," she said.

"That's over a five-week period ... and nine-a-side, which is almost a different game of hockey, so it's going to be really different.

"But I think hockey needs to do something to keep up with other sports and try to get that media and television attention as well so it's going to be good to watch."

Flanagan will be back in Canberra in four weeks' time for the Australian Running Festival on April 14-15.

She's an ambassador for the event, where she'll run her first ever half marathon.

It's a daunting task even though she's played 171 games for Australia.

Flanagan said they only averaged about six kilometres of intermittent running in a hockey game - a far cry from what she's preparing for.

"I don't think I've ever run 21km in my life. I don't know if I'll enjoy it, but I'll try. It's something I want to tick off and being Canberran ... I can't say no to that," she said.

Flanagan has continued to work in the media and has started her "car-pool concept" for PlayersVoice.

​She's doing a series of videos where she gives other athletes, including Canberra Olympic sprinter Anneliese Rubie, a lift to training and they chat along the way.

"It's a very relaxed environment to learn a bit more about athletes in a totally different setting," Flanagan said.

"It's my little car ... so we put the GoPros in and off we go."

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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