SHE has already reached the pinnacle of her sport, but Hannah MacLeod isn’t afraid to throw herself into a new challenge she knows little about.
The 32-year-old hockey star was part of the Great Britain team that won gold at the Rio Olympics, but she has switched her hockey stick for sails as she prepares to tackle the Australian leg of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.
Describing her feelings after the drought-breaking gold medal win as “utter madness” and “absolutely incredible”, it was the chance to learn something completely different that drew MacLeod to one of the biggest sailing events on the international calendar.
“One of the reasons I took it up was that I wanted to be a beginner again,” she said.
“I’m leaving a sport that has been my life for so long, I know everything about it, so I wanted to get that feeling again that I was learning something new.
“It’s a life-changing moment; everyone walks away from the experience with something quite palpable so I think I’ll have a very open mind as to where I’m at at the end of this.”
Proving hockey will always hold a special place in her heart regardless of where she is or what she is doing, the athlete took time out of her busy preparations on Wednesday to do what she does best, holding a special coaching session for some of the state’s best young talent at Bentley’s Perth Hockey Stadium.
“It’s really interesting to come across to the other side of the world to see where their skill base is versus the girls who come through our system in the UK,” she said.
“They’re far more physical here, far more athletic which is kind of what you’d expect, but I loved their attitude and commitment to trying to implement what the coaches are talking about, I was really impressed.”
Carramar’s Tyler Pedley was one of the 12 Hockey WA Talent Accelerant Program athletes who took part in the coaching session and said it had been “a life changing experience”.
“It’s always good to learn from players that have been there and done that and know what it takes to get to where you want to be,” she said.
“It’s definitely inspiring as well and it gives you the drive to know that it can be done and that with hard work and a little self-belief you can get there.”
MacLeod will depart Fremantle as part of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race on Saturday and is due to arrive in Sydney between December 14 and 17.
The girls involved
Lola Quinn – Swanbourne
Mimi Kitto – Nedlands
Tyler Pedley – Carramar
Mikaela Swart – Mt Hawthorn
Madi Gagel – Mosman Park
Ella Munro – Attadale
Ellen Kozlowska – Coolbinia
Sienna Berry – Greenwood
Clare Shine – Cottesloe
Ingrid Ledger – Cottesloe
Beatriz Monger Molowny – East Fremantle
Sarah Guilfoyle – Shenton Park