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Hull on target for Tokyo

Megan Hull beats an Argentine player in the FIH Pro Hockey League. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

HOCKEY

CHRIS COGDALE
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Former Wairarapa College student Megan Hull says there’s a lot of hard work ahead before her place in the Black Sticks women’s team for the Tokyo Olympics is confirmed.

The 31-cap international was one of 25 women named last week to prepare for the postponed games, with the squad to be whittled down to 16 for the Olympic tournament.

“It’s just the squad, and they must have said ‘we’ll give this battler another go’, or something like that,” Hull said.

Hull’s selection comes after an in and out career for the Black Sticks, after she made her debut in 2016 and was dropped after just four games.

“I went overseas and played for a year for Southern United in Melbourne. It was awesome, they were just great people, and I had a ball over there.”

The urge for more international play remained high though, and Hull returned to New Zealand, made the development squad in 2018 and was reinstated in the Black Sticks for the first international Pro League in 2019.

The postponement of the Olympics in April gutted Hull, and she was excited to be selected after what she says has been “a funny old 12 months.

“It’s a massive, massive privilege. It’s sort of like a restart again, and it gives us a little bit more time together, but it’s definitely been a weird year.

“I have spent the majority of the year back and forth between Auckland and back home in Pongaroa and also in Palmerston North, with my sisters over there.”

“I was sort of bouncing around a little bit, but I was really lucky that I could pick up some work here and there.”

Since the resumption of competitive hockey, Hull played some club games in Manawatu and then was an integral member of the champion Central Falcons side who won the inaugural national premier league, which featured the country’s leading players in four high-quality teams.

“That was amazing honestly, and it showcased so much talent across the country, in the men and the women. There are so many great hockey players, so it was really good exposure.”

“We had a really good bunch, and we were keen to go out there and play as a team and keep doing our best and just enjoy it.”

The 24-year-old defender has now started a summer conditioning programme, but will take a break to spend Christmas and New Year at home in Pongaroa, before a more intensive training schedule targeting the specific demands of playing in Tokyo at the peak of the Japan summer.

“We come back around January 10 and we’ve got a bunch of heat-related camps and heat training, and some fun stuff like that.”

“They’ve got a few scenarios about what will happen, and it just depends on borders and things like that. So maybe there’s an opportunity to play Australia if those borders open, but I guess it’s a bit play by ear.”

Despite being based in Auckland, Hull said she is a “1000 per cent Wairarapa girl.”

“I will never be anything else, and I’m very lucky to have grown up in that special place and to have had that upbringing from my incredible parents.”

Hull also keeps a close eye on the performances of many of her schoolmates, who were part of the Wellington premier champion Dalefield side.

“Lots of those girls in the Dalefield team are some of my really good friends, and I would love to be playing alongside those guys, they are awesome,” she said.

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