Bianca Russell, Hockey

As goal keeper, Bianca Russell plays a central role within the team. As the oldest member of the team, at 34 years, she also has a wealth of life experiences to add value to the team as a whole.

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Being part of a team of players who are all as dedicated to success as she is, adds to her overall enjoyment of being part of the national side.

"It is great to be all working towards a common goal, as well as individually having a clear role to help influence the outcome," she says.

Developing strategies for differentiating between reality and perception has been a useful tool she has gained in her hockey that bodes well for both her sport and life generally.

As a goal keeper you are in a unique position within the team and it requires a different sort of preparation.

"I operate as the eyes for the team, communicating and directing the defenders," she says. Bianca knew what she wanted to do with her sport and life, but figuring out the how was the hard part. "I had to decide what was and wasn’t important," she says.

Bianca has adapted her life to be able to balance her sport without completely giving away other pursuits of enjoyment. "I regularly include activities such as horse riding and sea kayaking as a way to keep refreshed, and provide some time away from the high performance environment of hockey."

Having things outside of hockey help Bianca be a better player and work towards the goal of playing a good game consistently. "Sport mirrors life is so many ways, with the skills you learn in sport being so transferable to other areas of your life," she says. And she would know - when not playing hockey she juggles working for a security company, luckily with great support and flexibility from her employer.

Toni Cumpston

Hockey NZ High Performance Manager Toni Cumpston says Bianca’s determination and commitment to being the best she can be has culminated in her selection for the London Olympics. "Being one of the older athletes in our young squad, she sets a fine example of how to manage priorities and attain a balance in her life whilst still achieving on the world stage."

Hockey women

New Zealand Olympic Women’s Hockey Team

  • Kayla Sharland (Captain)
  • Emily Naylor
  • Krystal Forgesson
  • Katie Glynn
  • Alan Millington
  • Ella Gunson
  • Sam Charlton
  • Clarissa Eshuis
  • Sam Harrison
  • Cathryn Finlayson
  • Gemma Flynn
  • Charlotte Harrison
  • Melody Cooper
  • Bianca Russell
  • Stacey Michelsen
  • Anita Punt

Did You Know?

The first women’s Olympic hockey competition was held at the 1980 Olympic Games. The first time a New Zealand Women’s Hockey Team competed was in 1984, finishing sixth. Hockey was played on grass at the Olympics until 1976 when the change to a waterbased synthetic turf was introduced. This allows the ball to roll more smoothly and quickly. For the first time, in London the Hockey pitch will be blue, with a yellow ball.

Athlete Life Advisor and Support Services Manager Tracey Paterson encourages the players to plan their life outside of Hockey to provide rejuvenation and recovery from the intensity of their Hockey commitments.

"For some players this means a continued investment in part time study and career plans while others take the opportunity to develop new skills and attend professional development courses and activities that will assist them post the Olympics," she says. Success at this level requires well planned players with a commitment to ongoing personal and professional development.

The Athlete Life programme provides support to athletes with their career and education, sport lifestyle, personal leadership and finances so they  can achieve competitive greatness.