Katie Glynn returns to Olympic Park after 2012 hockey injury

Katie Glynn takes a blow to the head during Olympic semi-final

“There are some good memories but also some tough times,” says Katie Glynn, Great Britain women’s assistant coach, who returns to the Olympic Park for the first time on Wednesday after experiencing a horror injury at London 2012.

Many will remember Glynn’s tenacity at the London Games when she was hit flush in the head by an accidental swinging stick by Holland’s Ellen Hoog during the Olympic semi-final, with blood pouring, only to return soon after with stitches and a bandage.

Nine years on, and after a stellar career with the Black Sticks which was ultimately ended by a back injury, she has joined former coach Mark Hager with GB women, the team which subsequently beat New Zealand to bronze after the Dutch had won their semi-final shoot-out at the old Riverbank Arena, less than a mile from Lee Valley.

“At the time in a semi-final of an Olympic Games, adrenaline takes over,” Glynn recalls to The Hockey Paper. “I remember I was taken off where the doctors were, someone gave me a phone to watch the action on the pitch and I wasn’t paying much attention to what was happening with my head. I just wanted to get back out there.”

And back she came, with staples in the head, a bandage – which she later admitted to looking like a ‘conehead’ – and out for the second half.

“I’d like to say I was a pretty tough player,” Glynn says of a 134-cap career, “took the knocks and kept going. It was a game I will remember for a long time for lots of reasons.”

Glynn retired in 2014 after the Commonwealth Games following a prolonged back injury. She admits: “I had ongoing problems for a few years and I was in the gym one day and I haven’t been able to get back into any social sports since I retired.” 

And so after assisting as a Black Sticks coach, she left a fractious programme to join the Australian in September, taking another step in her burgeoning elite coaching career.

“Getting the job was really exciting and when it happened there was a lot of uncertainty. But it was an amazing opportunity,” says the 32-year-old.

“You hear what they [GB’s Bisham Abbey HQ] have but it’s not until you get here do you realise just how amazing it is, the facilities, resources, setup and full-time programme and it’s one of the best in the world – and they have earned it with the results they’ve achieved.”

Glynn is charged with overseeing GB women’s forward cohort – the Kiwi finished with a national record 77 goals for the Black Sticks – and penalty corner routines. “I’ve got a lot of young, eager players who’ve made real progress over the last months,” she adds.

Not only that but the youthful forward line – most of whom have yet to experience an Olympics – is also prone to ask for extra tuition after training sessions. 

“They have a full-time programme and they always ask for more after training,” she smiles. “They’re all really keen to improve, get out there and keep chipping away. As a coach, that’s what you want, you want them hungry for more. I love their attitude towards training; it keeps me on the turf for longer, but that’s where I like to be.”

Glynn took the tough decision to leave New Zealand with her fiancée left at home. While the world is currently full of uncertainties, the Olympics are still scheduled to go ahead and only then will the Kiwi’s future become clear.

“Taking the job on it was clear that we would not see each other for a year. We made that commitment and worked through it,” she says. “I’m not sure what will happen after Tokyo, there will be a review and we’ll see what happens then.”

Mark Hager and Katie Glynn, GB women’s coach and assistant coach

Hager on ‘hard-nosed’ Glynn

“She was a striker who had the ability to put the ball in the back of the net from anywhere in the circle. She had that goal sense about her and the different type of shots and she just developed her own style.

“It was difficult to keep her off the pitch. She had to retire due to back problems, her last game was the bronze match at the the 2014 Commonwealth Games and it was sad that her pain cut a very fine career short.”

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