Energised Nance back on deck with Hockeyroos

Gabi Nance's hard work and commitment have paid dividends with her selection in the Hockeyroos 2020 squad - a chance at making the Tokyo Olympic Games very much alive

GABI  Nance has been there, done that, in the world of hockey.

Now the 25-year-old SA Sports Institute and Australian player is looking forward to more of the done that after winning selection on the 2020 Hockeyroos squad.

That squad is likely to form the base of the Australian team which will head to Tokyo for the Olympic Games with SASI graduates Karri McMahon and Jane Claxton among those chosen.

Only 16 players are expected to be chosen from the 27-person squad.

But Nance is lapping up the immediate good news and focusing on doing the best she can.

"I was probably more nervous than I thought but was so relieved to make the squad," Nance said.

"I'm on a bit of a high and just stoked to be there.

"Nothing is guaranteed but I feel I'm better prepared this time around."

Worn out from the grind of top-level hockey Nance, who plays for Seacliff Hockey Club when time permits, headed to the Netherlands after playing in the Australian team which won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018.

There, she weighed up her long-term future but the turning point was a conversation with former Australian player and current Netherlands women's hockey coach Alyson Annan.

"She gave me a rocket and said she had walked away from the game about three times and came back each time," Nance said.

"She said you are a long time retired and that I would have regrets if I walked away. That helped me see a new perspective. I returned to Adelaide, approached SASI and Tim White and was welcomed back with open arms.

"At the time I walked away I was carrying a few injuries which were getting me down."

Hard work, strong results in the newly formed Hockey One League and a top attitude saw her receive the call she had hoped for.

The Hockeyroos squad will be involved in the coming Pro League competition early next year where games are played in Australia and overseas. Before that she will head to Perth for an induction period and then relocate there for the training and playing season.

SASI Hockey Head Coach Tim White said he was thrilled with Nance's selection and that of the other SASI duo Jane Claxton and Karri McMahon.

"Jane and Karri retain their places and for Gabi she's been selected after leaving the national program after the 2018 Commonwealth Games," White said.

"After returning from a club season in Europe in July Gabi's impact on the SASI program has been profound.

"She drives high standards and gave gerself the best chance to get selected.

"Her consistent and impactful performances for the Adelaide Fire in the Hockey One League where she was awarded the Adelaide Fire MVP award were the catalyst for her selection."

Hockeyroos head coach Paul Gaudoin said Nance had deserved her selection.

"I think the notable thing about seeing players who have come back into the squad after being part of the Hockeyroos before is that you can come back in, learn and develop and still get an opportunity,” Gaudoin said.

"Gabi certainly showed an interest in coming back and getting involved and that just hasn’t happened overnight.

"We’ve been in contact and she has shown an eagerness to get back into the squad through her commitment to her training programs with the South Australian Sports Institute.

"She’s also been playing in Europe in the top club league in the world and that certainly hasn’t hurt her … it has helped her develop her game.

“She’s a quick forward who’s extremely fit and has had experience at the Olympic Games before, so it’s pleasing to see her back."

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