To keep up to date with what Ashleigh and the Hockeyroo’s are up to check out her posts or follow her on twitter @nelson_ashleigh.
To keep up to date with what Ashleigh and the Hockeyroo’s are up to check out her posts or follow her on twitter @nelson_ashleigh.
Who would have thought 100 days till Rio would be so significant? In an athlete’s mind it was a clear reminder that we had 100 days to perfect those last few skills, 100 days to finalise structures and 100 days till the team was 100% ready to take the field. The last thing that I thought it would mean was 100 days of rehab and 100 days of knowing that I wouldn’t be going to the Olympics. As magical as sport can be, it can be equally brutal, something that most athletes know all to well. Sadly as fate would have it 100 days out from the Rio Olympics I tore my Anterior Cruciate Ligament during an intra-squad game for the Hockeyroos. Above: My partner Aaron and I once I came out of surgery. One of the rare moments where I could keep my eyes open. It was such an innocuous incident with my right knee giving way as I planted my foot to pass the ball. In hindsight I wish I had been selfish and ignored my free teammate, but clearly my time of having an intact ACL was up. As you can see in the video below it was a remarkably unspectacular event, which is sure to get no more than 10 views on you tube. For those who have not had the pleasure of tearing their ACL, along with their lateral and medial meniscus, with a dose of torn hamstring in there too; well …….. it bloody hurts. Tears were not shed given there was no room for them, amidst the groans and expletives that were pouring out of my mouth (fortunately not captured on camera). It was a confusing couple of minutes for me, unsure if I had dislocated my kneecap (which would have been preferable) or torn my ACL. After tearing my ACL in my left knee in 2004 at age 17, I knew that if this was the case then my dream of a second Olympics was over. It may have been the adrenaline or the sheer will to prove that I hadn’t torn my ACL, but soon after the incident I got up and walked off the field with minimal discomfort. Trying to keep composed I followed Eddie Maguire’s advice and phoned a friend (more specifically my Mum) to take me to the Sports Physician and to get scans to see the true damage. Still trying to play the injury down, I thought it best to help myself to a bowl of sultana bran while watching the rest of the game. Sadly despite my best efforts my composure and positivity about the whole situation came to a grinding halt. Tests by the Sports Physician indicating a positive full ACL rupture were confirmed by a MRI shortly after. Being a relatively positive person, I have had many people query if this upset me at all. Short answer is ABSOLUTELY. How could one not be upset? Since age 5 I have been playing hockey, making my first state team at 14 years and then debuting for the Hockeyroos at 21. That means that I have dedicated 15 years of my life training at a state or international level all with the aim of playing at the Olympics Games. To then not have the opportunity...read more
The Western Australian of the Year Awards recognise the highest level of contribution made to Western Australia by those born and bred in Western Australia, or those who have chosen to make Western Australia their home. There are seven Award categories and for each, one winner is chosen. The overall Western Australian of the Year Awards winner for 2015 is chosen from amongst the Award category winners. Sport Award proudly sponsored by Hardy Brothers Jewellers Recognises excellence in achievement, development, administration or promotion of sport in the Western Australian community. The 2015 Sport Award finalists are: Ashleigh Nelson Judith Rae Pilatti Daniel Ricciardo Andrew Vlahov For more info please check...read more
Sandgropers, crow eaters, gum suckers, top enders, banana benders, apple eaters, cockroaches & round-about abouters have all taken to sunny Brisbane to fight it out in this years Australian Hockey League. With a different team taking out the tournament in the past 4 years it is set to be a competitive tournament showcasing the best players Australia has to offer both senior and up and coming. For people interested in knowing more about their team or their opposition here’s a quick summary. (Alphabetically listed) Australian Capital Territory: Despite being small in size ACT often packs a punch and has produced quality international players including the likes of past Hockeyroos Katrina Powell and Peta Gallagher. ACT’s best performance recently came in 2004 where they came second to the WA Diamonds. Although they haven’t won the competition in the past 10 years they have been a solid side making the top 4 on a regular basis, and being in contention to take the title. ACT has a talented list including Hockeyroo Edwina Bone who endeavours to break the game open with her fitness and strength on the ball. She will be flanked by previous international young player of the year Anna Flanagan returning from Holland adding an extra element to ACT’s penalty corner attack. Other athletes including Naomi Evans & Jenna Cartwright will be a positive influence through ACT’s midfield/strike line. International imports include talented defender Samantha Charlton from the New Zealand Blacksticks and Kate Gillis, captain of the Canadian hockey team. New South Wales: With 2 grand final appearances in the last 3 years without taking out the much coveted AHL trophy, NSW will be looking to make amends this time round. Despite being a youthful team, they certainly have the talent to take out the title if they perform to their potential and on a consistent basis. With the return of Casey Eastham vice captain of the Hockeyroos from Holland, NSW will enjoy having the stability and experience through the midfield. Teams will have to defend well against NSW with talented and experienced forwards Emily Smith, Hollie Webster alongside young gun Mariah Williams featuring in their line up. Developing defender Georgie Morgan will head up the defence for NSW supported by Jocelyn Bartram in the goals. Northern Territory: A lack of athlete numbers has been a long standing problem for the Northern Territory making it difficult to form a side which is in contention for a finals berth. Despite this setback NT has formed a comprehensive side including imports from WA and QLD. Unfortunately due to injury at the recent Commonwealth Games they will not have their star local player Brooke Peris to assist in their AHL endeavours. Although NT has faced the logistical issue of not training together for a long period of time, they have always caused upsets due to their persistent and dogged nature in performance. With a talented ninja in the net AKA Lizzy Duguid, NT will be tough to score against. Queensland: Last years winners and regular finals contenders QLD are one of the hot favourites to take out this years honours. With a list of household names in the Hockeyroos side and many talented juniors, they certainly have the lineup for back to back premierships. Led by Hockeyroos captain and experienced AHL campaigner...read more
RUOK? and the Kokoda Experience. Kokoda, it is a name that resonates and evokes a sense of pride and loss with so many Australians. Despite many not having family members involved in the Kokoda Trail campaign, it would be difficult to find someone who hasn’t contemplated what hardships faced by many young men from a range of countries in Papua New Guinea in 1942. Words can barely justify how much of a harrowing yet emotionally fulfilling experience Kokoda was for both Rachael and myself. To see just how many young lives were taken far too early from this world was distressing. All men on the trail no matter what ethnicity was a son, brother, husband and father to someone. Knowing so many wives were left to raise their children alone, knowing many daughters no longer had their father to walk them down the aisle and loving parents would be forever hoping for their sons return made that moment profoundly difficult comprehend. It was at Bomana Cemetery in Port Moresby where many of the soldiers were buried that the significance of our charity walk was put into context for me personally. As I looked at the countless rows of headstones I realised that there were just as many young men and women in our country every year that have so much to offer but are lost to suicide, leaving their loved ones with the same feelings of unimaginable grief and loss experienced by families over the Kokoda campaign. At that moment I hoped our walk and the money raised would make a difference to someone and their family, even if it was just one. Day to day living in today’s society has become somewhat of a battlefield. Pressure to make more money, be seen with the right people, to parent well, make ends meet, work to deadlines, have the right body image, be an A grade student, climb the work place ladder plus many more are all stressors which we all place on ourselves in our ever busy lifestyle. Along side these external pressures, genetic predisposition, chemical imbalances and increase in drug use are all factors contributing to an increase in depression and suicide within Australia. Current statistics indicate that on average there are 6 PEOPLE dying every day from suicide equating to 2,600 individual lives lost per year. Although this is a staggering statistic, what’s equally alarming is the estimated 65,000 suicide attempts in the same year. We opted to raise funds for the mental health group – RUOK? based on the simplicity of their campaign and the amazing people who have worked tirelessly for the organisation to expand it to a national level. There is no doubt that Australians typically have a bad habit of ‘beating around the bush’ and not being direct with each other, in both questioning and answering during a conversation. If I could donate a $1 to the RUOK? campaign, every time an Australian responds ‘yeah good mate’ when asked ‘how ya goin?’, we would never have to ask the government for more space in the budget again for better mental health care. RUOK? promotes the idea of being open and also allowing oneself to be vulnerable, which can be hard thing particularly for Australian men who account for up to 75% of the...read more
This wasn’t how it was meant to be. 2 minutes remaining and England persist in defending their circle and overhearing the ball over our press resulting in a lack of attack. We are 1 nil down and after a highly successful tournament letting in only 1 goal prior to the final it hardly seemed fair to lose the final. I still remember looking at the clock and seeing 2 minutes remaining, coming to the conclusion that I had to prepare myself that we had lost the Gold Medal despite such dominance in the tournament. What a kick in the gut that would be! As fate would have it in the final play of the game along with the assistance of Georgie Parker, I was able to work the ball into the circle and be rewarded with the much needed penalty corner. The whole time I had it on the end of my stick I can remember thinking just don’t do anything stupid i.e kick it. Fortunatley I have size 6 feet so it would have been a pretty special effort had I managed to do that. 6 games which equates to 420 minutes of match play (look at my mad maths skills, thanks school) and it all came down to 9 seconds !! You could almost equate the final short corner to a 100m sprint. We had to execute when the pressure was high and any mistake could result in the loss of a gold medal. The initial flick from Anna Flanagan was saved by Maddie Hinch but as luck would have it, it fell to in form Jodie Kenny who made no mistake in flicking the ball back into the low right hand corner of the goal. Raw emotion took over and poor Jodie felt the wrath of my excitement scaling her long limbs like a koala bear and squeezing her with all my might. We hadn’t even won but given that all hope had been lost just 1 minute before, the fact we were going to one on ones and still had a chance to win that highly prized medal we were all riding high. Usually in shoot outs I am a nervous wreck opting to keep my head down and murmur a series of words much like a mad voodoo woman. Surprisingly however, given our current knack of getting ourselves into these situations and coming out on top (never losing a one on one contest) I was fairly calm and confident. Once again the preparation to know the opposition goalie and their key penalty takers paid dividends. Rach Lynch continued to tackle better than any striker in our team to force many missed opportunities for England, giving some breathing space to our girls who were selected to take the penalties. Our much loved El Capitano Madonna Blyth was landed with the job of taking the final penalty which would secure our win. And what a fitting way to win the gold medal as Donny really does epitomise what the Hockeyroos are all about – persistant, tough and calm under pressure. As the ball sailed into the goal, Donny opened her arms like a an albatross in full flight preparing herself for the herd of elephants (the non plenty takers) storming the field headed in her general direction....read more
A 9-0 win v home side Scotland and follow up 3-0 victory against England has cemented a spot for us to be in contention for the Commonwealth gold medal match. Although we can continue to progress and make many improvements in certain areas of our game, it has been a clinical performance thus far. With 25 goals for and 0 against, it is a start that we are happy to take. Drag flicking specialist Jodie Kenny has been much more reliable than a sundial at midnight putting away almost half of the teams goals. It is a great reward for Jodie who has worked hard on developing her set skill, which is now paying dividends and we hope she can continue this form into the finals. Around the village we have been proactive in celebrating many special occasions. Eddie Bone, Jane Claxton and Karri McMahon all celebrated their 50th games for the Hockeyroos over the past few games. Meanwhile Emily Smith celebrated yet another birthday on tour turning the ripe old age of 22. In true Hockeyroo creativity and possible stinginess we proudly made Smitty a cake consisting off 2 giant pre baked cookies joined together with local Scottish ice cream. It was a genius creation warmly received by all who tasted it and received their daily calorie intake in one mouthful. Rach Lynch and I also had the opportunity to catch up with para-athlete Kurt Fearnley to pick up some tips on our Kokoda Trek. Kurt managed to complete the Kokoda Trek alongside his family and friends through use of only his arms. His primary piece of advice to Rach and I was …..’try not to crawl it.” This was great advice and put things into context, if Kurt could manage to overcome the trek using his arms alone than I think we really couldn’t complain about how hard it actually might be. A truly inspiring guy and it was a honour to chat with him. I also must congratulate Kurt on his silver medal performance in tonights race. Once again the Hockeyroos were getting the royals on the #roovolution bandwagon with Harry, William and Kate dropping in to watch a game. It was once again exciting to meet them with many of the girl having their phone numbers at the ready for Harry and showing great admiration for Kate who was wearing some significantly high wedges with great style. Rach Lynch claimed Harry proposed to her as indicated in the photo below but as we are yet to see any formal invitations, the jury is still out on this rumour. With the remainder of the games in our opposing pool being played, we will be playing South Africa in the semi-final with NZ set to take on England in the other semi. South Africa although ranked 11th in the world at the moment have shown they are capable of performing well against higher ranked opposition. Their game v NZ was at a high tempo and they pressed and counter attacked quite effectively especially in the second half. The end result was 2-1 to NZ, however with SA displaying many patches of dominance it could have been a far different scoreline had they been more clinical in the circle. Our game is scheduled to take place at 12:15pm tomorrow (Scotland...read more
Apparently there was a hockey game on today. I was there and witnessed the Australian Women’s Hockey Team win their 1st game of the Commonwealth Games 4-0 vs Malaysia. Although we take our matches very seriously, sometimes life presents abundant opportunities. Today it was who could get the best selfie with non-other than our very lovely Queen Elizabeth more affectionately known as Queenie. I was fortunate enough to get in early with a candid shot of our marked lady on her way into the stadium. I had unfortunately missed the first game due to injury ……. but had a minor perk of stumbling across the Queen while the girls were ice bathing. The 10m perimeter set a serious challenge and resulted in the long range selfie. We were fortunate enough to be allowed to get a little closer to Queenie later in the day, with our Captain Madonna Blyth even being able to personally greet her. Known for her manners and ability to speak well Donnie was the perfect representative while the rest of us remained well contained behind the netting. The netting did not stop us from wielding our iPhones with many of the cameras set on rapid fire, attempting to capture the moment. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you have been living under a rock because it seemed the Queen was ready and raring to photobomb. Apparently she has been taking lessons from her Grandchildren …..probably Harry lets face it and the results of her efforts were stunning and have gone viral especially with Jayde Taylor and Brooke Peris’ photo below. It was an absolute blast to have won our first game v Malaysia, but to have a selfie with the Queen has satisfied one section of my bucket list! The challenge is set – which athlete can outdo the Australian Womens Hockey Team selfie effort? Do you think Usain Bolt would be keen to have a photo with us and join the #roovolution that is happening in Australian Womens Hockey at the moment ??? Lets face it he is the King of athletics and all the countries in the Commonwealth love a little bit of royalty . Stay tuned for more news and our progression through the game. Next up Wales tomorrow at 2pm. Ashleigh Nelson #8 – Australian Womens Hockey...read more
The World Cup is a very complicated tournament – six games, seven if you make it to the final – and maybe if you lose one game you’re out, even if you’re the best. – Pele- It only seemed fitting to quote soccer great Pele with the arrival of the Soccer World Cup. But before Australia focuses on what’s happening in the soccer, it is important to realise that Australia has the opportunity to take out a Hockey World Cup with the Hockeyroos progressing through to the final. It has been a hard slog with all six game being difficult to win. It has been so close that we have actually only won most games by one goal (no doubt stressing our poor supporters and coaching staff). Going into the tournament we were probably expected to be finals contenders but as Pele states even one slip can result in a champion team losing a World Cup which if given attention could have been a worrying thought. Although we have not been as clinical as we would have liked in front of goals we have remained focused and accrued enough points to play in the semi final vs USA. USA was an unnerving opponent in some respects. Although they currently sit 10th in the world they had progressed through this tournament beating higher ranked teams including worthy adversaries Germany and England, while drawing with world number 2 Argentina. It was evident USA were riding high on confidence and with nothing to lose they were throwing everything they had at progressing to the gold medal match, which can be difficult to match up against. If spectators thought the round games had been close, the semi final proved to push the limits of anxiety. By the end of the game, grey hairs were clearly visible on most of the spectators head glistening in the sun amongst the sea of yellow. I felt we had most of the control for 60 minutes of the game, holding a 2-1 lead with two minutes to go. Unfortunately due to some ordinary defensive work in our attacking 25 we allowed USA to breakaway resulting in a goal. The goal was contentious with the ball being lifted into the shoulder of Madonna Blyth and then deflecting into the goal. Given the time remaining on the clock and the reaction of the players “complaining” about the dangerous nature of the ball it was surprising that it was not reviewed by the 3rd umpire. As we had lost our ability to refer the goal to the 3rd umpire we were relying on the umpire to make her own referral which unfortunatley did not happen. There is no doubt umpires have a difficult job and are not be able to make the right calls all of the time especially in the heat of the moment. This is why appropriate use of the 3rd umpire is so imperative. Utilising available technology should not be frowned upon especially when it comes to potential tournament changing calls and in this instance it was something that could have been better utilised. As I said umpiring is a hard job something that I would find difficult to do, but as the game progresses with rule changes and speed of the game increases use of technology in...read more
– Life Isn’t A Matter Of Milestones, But Of Moments – Today I reached the 150 game milestone for my career with the Hockeyroos. My brother requested I hold my stick aloft mimicking cricket great Ricky Ponting but much to his disappointment I failed on that front…perhaps at 200 games?? It has been a humbling and enjoyable occasion however it isn’t reaching the milestone that brings me most joy but rather reflecting on the moments throughout the 150 games. Moments that were utterly entertaining right through to the difficult situations and lessons learnt. Starting in 2007 I have been a member of the Hockeyroos going on 7 years, so just what makes up my top moments and memories? 1. Debut Game: Australia vs Japan – Adelaide, 2007. Despite many thinking the call up to play for Australia would be exciting, it actually was a difficult moment. The unexpected phone call came while travelling to a club teammates funeral whose loyalty and commitment I strongly admired. I like believe that perhaps she was with me at that point in time and glad that she was part of my debut experience. Playing in front of a home crowd with my Mum and Godmother hiding amongst the number after telling them not to come as I would just be ‘riding the pine’ was daunting. After 5 minutes I was exhausted, probably from the anxiety of playing along side Hockeyroos legends Nikki Hudson, Angie Skirving etc. It is funny that my 150th game would be against the same team I debuted against 7 years later with a few of the same teammates still lingering around….. a little slower but definitely smarter 2. The Hard Yards: This wasn’t just a moment but rather an arduous period of time. After making my debut it soon became clear that playing one game for Australia doesn’t mean you have the right to continue to play. (Sometimes a surprise for Gen Y according to many baby boomer and Gen X columnists). I had just a mere taste of what it was like to be a Hockeyroo and fortunately for me this was a healthy addiction leaving me wanting more. Little did I know that 2 years down that track I would still be vying for selection for that next game. Countless non selections, small group sessions and individual running drills did not make this an enjoyable experience given my general hate towards running. I remember many times being so tired and frustrated that I would cry probably because I had run out of my favourite cereal. Many a time my Mum said that I could walk away proud that I had achieved the goal of playing for Australia, and she was right it would have been fine. But looking back I am proud I persisted and graduated from what I liken to a hockey apprenticeship. The rewards have far outweighed the 2 year hardship and expenses incurred from buying copious amounts of boxes of tissues and comfort ice-cream. 3. Monkey off the back: After finally getting my next game for Australia I was determined to actually score a goal. Being a striker, scoring goals is apparenlty somewhat important if not essential as far as the job criteria goes. It wasn’t the most skilful goal but definitely fit the bill of being in the right place at the right time – a motto I play be especially...read more
Follow the link to see a short video on the Hockeyroos and their adventures in Antwerp! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oQh9RgSoFM Enjoy and share x...read more