"I didn’t want to let go": Condon reflects on hockey comeback

·3-min read
Condon came back from the brink to compete at Birmingham 2022 (AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect)

By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat

AFTER Olympic heartbreak, David Condon vowed to make a “statement.”

The Leicester-born hockey star narrowly missed out on selection for Tokyo and at the age of 31 feared his last major competition may be behind him.

A period of reflection followed as Condon used his extended break from the sport to rediscover his passion.

A new season promised a fresh start and after impressing with club side Wimbledon, Condon was selected for his third Commonwealth Games.

“Tokyo happened, they flew off and the summer was like, ‘right I’ve got a decision here’,” recalled Condon, who is one of more than 1,100 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering technology, science and medical support.

“Am I gonna sulk and say this is my career coming to an end, knowing I’m getting older, or is this what I dreamt of as a nine-year-old boy, to play for England.

“This is an opportunity I didn’t want to let go.

“In January I wanted to make a statement, come back and show this is the new me. I tried not to think about Birmingham but it was always there to chase.”

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes, and having secured his place on the squad, Condon is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.

Condon is no stranger to a challenge, now in his 13th year as an international he will be hoping to add to his tally of 130 England caps – and two Commonwealth Games bronze medals – in Birmingham later this summer.

And when he does finally call time on his career, he says he will sorely miss the hard work and dedication required at the top level.

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Condon hopes sharing his story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality

“This sounds so ridiculous, but I enjoy making those sacrifices and the hard work that it takes because, when you put in that work you’re not always rewarded in elite sport but when you are, that feeling is unmatched,” he explained.

“I enjoy waking up and if we’ve had savage training it hurts to get out of bed, I quite like that. I don’t see it as a job or a grind, I see it as something that I look forward to and having that purpose keeps me going.

“That adversity, I just love that.”

With preparations now well underway for Birmingham, Condon is relishing his role as one of the elder statesmen in the Team England group.

And he says that while others cannot quite believe how old he is, he is savouring every moment in the build-up to the Games, fully aware that this one could well be his last.

“People are more shocked that I’m as old as 31, if anything I get age-compliments rather than insults. Luckily, I’ve got quite a thick head of hair and no grey hairs yet,” he joked.

“I have really enjoyed passing on little tips, all the things I’ve picked up and I enjoy helping the new guys find their feet.

“Time just flies by, and I just want to embrace this home Games and make it that extra bit special because these moments are becoming less and less.”

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