...So many athletes suffer from
depression after their "golden days"
and it is so crucial that this issue
becomes talked about on a broader level.

Sport is a platform for… a healthy, active lifestyle in a social environment (at a grass roots level). On an elite level, it is a platform for showcasing what humans can achieve when they push themselves far beyond what they thought they were capable of.

Outside of playing hockey for NZ I... do a lot of things! In 2016, after the Rio Olympics, I decided to leave the Marketing industry to work for myself. This gave me the opportunity to choose how I spend my time (which is my greatest asset).

In March 2017, I launched the ‘All About Balance’ Initiative. Using my profile as an Olympian, I have been connecting with thousands of high school athletes and hosting workshops to help them find a balance between their mental, physical and social well being. We cover a range of topics such as mindfulness, goal/vision setting, limiting beliefs, social media, perfectionism, nutrition and more. This is all done through a holistic approach, where we look at all their overall well being.

My Career in the NZ Black Sticks Hockey team all started back when...
I was 20 years old, in my final year at Waikato University in 2013. I got the call and was so shocked I thought it was someone playing a joke on me! I was required to drive up to training in Auckland three nights a week. I was studying full time, so I would drive to Auckland after my lectures and train with the team, then drive 2 hours home at midnight and be up for class the next day. I did this for my entire last year at University and it was something that I certainly couldn’t sustain so after University I moved to Auckland.

The demands of elite sport are... Ruthless. It’s not until I step back and talk to someone who doesn’t play elite sport that I realise how much I give to this craft. The biggest demand by far is on my mind and body. They are my tools, and I look after them as any other profession would look after their tools. Nutrition, recovery, sleep, mindfulness…these are engrained into my daily lifestyle and I structure my life around getting what is best for me. I am constantly asking myself what I will need to have optimal performance that day. My daily choices all add up, which requires a lot of will power and dedication. A great tool that I have sharpened and can use when I finish with hockey!

I centre myself by… Daily mindfulness and gratitude. Since 2014, most days I take a moment to sit in silence, tune in to my body and settle my thoughts. It is by far the most powerful tool I have learned, and has made a huge impact on my performance on the field, and also in daily life off the field.

The most important thing I want others to know about having a career as a top athlete is… Don’t let that career define who you are as a person. You will only be able to play at an elite level for a fraction of your life, so it is important that you also develop life skills and put plans in place for dreams and goals outside of your sport...


A highlight this year has been…Winning the Commonwealth Games gold medal. It was the first ever time NZ has won, and to be a part of history was truly an amazing experience. It has made all of the sacrifices worth it, and has made me hungry for more moments like that!

To me “true style” means…Being your authentic self whilst finding a way to help others - be kind and dream big. All of the people in my life who I think have ‘true style’ embody all of those things, and they do so in a humble way.

A life changing moment in my life has been…Losing my best friend Caitlin to cancer at the age of 21. It put life in perspective for me. It made me cherish my relationships more, and question why we are put on this earth. It taught me how to deal with pain, both emotionally and physically. It made me not sweat the small stuff. I miss her every day.

I find purpose in my everyday through…Setting an intention for the day, and having a plan...

...Some days are without purpose,
and it’s often when I don’t have a strong enough intention to go with my plan.
If I’m not clear on the WHY,
the WHAT can become draining, uninspiring and unclear.

The legacy I want to leave is… I’m not sure just yet! I am learning every day, whether it’s hockey or business, relationships or spirituality. I hope that my legacy will take care of itself through the actions I am putting out into the world.

Photography by Planet Hockey

Hannah DarkinsComment