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A whirlwind few weeks for our Olympic bolter Sean Findlay

Sean Findlay is the 19-year-old go-getter who surprised even himself by making the Tokyo Olympic squad. He has had to overcome the loss of his Mum and having glandular fever in March to get there.

Tell us how you found out you’d made the Olympic squad.
When Darren (Vantage Black Sticks Head Coach Darren Smith) called I didn’t believe it at first and asked him if he’d got it wrong. I was pretty stoked but pretty surprised. It was one of the best moments in my life.

Who was the first person you told?
I was actually back in the Hawke’s Bay and Dad was at the turf watching our old school team play. So I rang him and said you need to come home as I may have some news.

In recent weeks you’ve been named Under-21 Player of the Year, made your Black Sticks debut and now the Olympics squad. Are you pinching yourself?
It was always a dream to play for the Black Sticks and go to the Olympics but I didn’t expect it to all happen at the same time.

How special was it to score on debut against Australia?
I don’t score a lot of goals. The only thing I told myself was not to hit it high. I didn’t want to be the player who with their first shot in their first game hits it over the cross bar. On the video, I definitely looked shocked and surprised afterwards.

Sean Findlay debuts for the Vantage Black Sticks in the Sentinel Homes Trans-Tasman series in May 2021.

And is it correct that you achieved all of this despite having glandular fever earlier in the year?
We thought it was tonsillitis but it was actually glandular fever. I was pretty lucky with lockdown, as despite being out for five weeks I only actually missed a week or so of hockey. It was really frustrating just watching and I had to go so slowly when I returned to training.

Tell us about your father Graeme who lives and breathes hockey.
Dad has always been there. He’s coached me since Under-11s and coached our high school team. He’s always at the turf and always coaching, and he means everything to me. He wasn’t able to be here today (for the Olympic squad naming) but I’ve spent the last six days at home in the Hawke’s Bay with him and my three sisters (Emma, Hannah and Greer).

My Mum died of cancer when I was 14. She was a big driving force behind what I’m doing now and she always said “don’t worry about what anyone else thinks, just go and do the best you can do.”

When I scored (on debut against Australia) I glanced up at her.

Shea McAleese will be a four-time Olympian in Tokyo but you’ve known him forever, haven’t you?
He’s been a role model and mentor but also a good mate and team-mate in the Hawke’s Bay. He helped me bridge the pathway from where I was to where I am now. He gave me advice and shared his personal experiences about what I needed to do to get to the next level.

What are your goals in Tokyo?
To play the best hockey I can and show everyone what I can potentially do as well as seeing how I match up against the best midfields in the world.

How do you relax away from hockey?
I catch up with mates and over summer I was going for a few surfs but there’s not much of that going on at the moment.

  • June 15th, 2021 in
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