After winning bronze and gold medals at the Olympics and enjoying a great career, Lincoln’s Georgie Twigg spoke to The Lincolnite to reflect back on her life in hockey after announcing her retirement from the sport.
Georgie, who grew up in Doddington near Lincoln, stopped playing hockey internationally in 2016 and the 31-year-old has now made the decision to step away from the game and retire at club level too, although she will still go and watch Lincoln Hockey Club, where her coach Tony Perrin is still involved, and also her most recent team Surbiton where she spent 10 years.
Retirement from club hockey had been on Georgie’s mind last season and now, after playing the sport for nearly 25 years, she has decided it is the right time to end her successful career to focus more on her career as a lawyer with London-based Bird & Bird.
She is also looking forward to getting her weekends back to try other sports, such as golf, seeing family and friends, and spending more quality time with her husband Iain Lewers who also played hockey at international level for Ireland, England and Great Britain.
When asked about her decision to retire, Georgie told The Lincolnite: “It was really tough because I’ve loved playing club hockey. Once I’d retired internationally I just played more for fun with my teammates, but it’s still a big commitment.
“Hockey has played a major role in my life for a very long time so it felt right, but it was a really tough decision.
“I thought about it last season. I think with working, and trying to get out to training in the middle of winter, and then travelling at weekends for matches, it felt the right time. I’m not getting any younger and my body was aching and it just felt like the time to step away from such a big commitment.
“The season starts on Saturday and I’m going to go down to watch the (Surbiton) girls’ first home game next week so I think that will be when it will probably hit me because naturally I will be a bit sad about not playing and being on the pitch with the girls.
“Hockey has been such a huge part of my life, so to not play it at all will be different. But never say never, when I’m older I might play in the vets or something.”
She also paid tribute to her most recent club Surbiton saying they are an “amazing club” and “one that I’m very lucky to have been part of, it really is very family orientated”.
She said: “We’ve had huge success as well and I think that’s down to the environment that the club and the coach has created, people want to come and play for us and it’s a great place to have been.”
— Georgie Twigg MBE (@georgietwigg) September 21, 2022
Georgie doesn’t see herself going into coaching and will step away from the sport other than spectating.
So what’s next for the Lincoln sporting sensation? “I’ll just spend time doing other things,” she added. “My husband is very excited that I might take up golf.
“I guess it just gives me a chance to do other sports and get my weekends back a bit more, and just not be dictated always by my hockey schedule.”
Georgie first started playing hockey at the age of just seven at St Mary’s School in Lincoln. She also played for Lincoln Hockey Club, as did her brother Charlie, before moving away to Derbyshire where she represented Repton School.
She said playing at Repton was the point in her life when hockey became “my main priority” under her coach at the time Martin Jones, who was “key to the start of my hockey career and having faith in me”.
She later played for Cannock Hockey Club before playing for Clifton whilst at the University of Bristol studying law, as well as for the university team on a Wednesday. Georgie has also played for London-based hockey club Surbiton for the last 10 years where she won multiple league titles.
During her time at university, Georgie was asked to go for a trial for the Great Britain team who were training full-time.
Georgie, who was honoured with an MBE for her services to hockey in 2017, said: “It was only at that point that suddenly I was like ‘oh wow, if this is a full-time thing maybe I stand a chance here’. I remember when I trialled I was very young at the time, I think I was 19, I never thought I was good enough to get into the senior team.
“It was probably around 2011 when I started to get selected regularly that I thought ‘oh wow, this could go somewhere’.”
After enjoying so many amazing experiences, including on the international stage and winning Olympic medals, Georgie summed up her career by saying: “I feel extremely lucky and privileged to have played in some amazing teams.
“The experiences that I’ve had, going to Olympic Games, and the success that we’ve had, I feel incredibly lucky that something that I loved doing I was able to do it to the sort of highest level and play professionally.
“Then to have also been able to play club for such a long period of time and to have had success with the club as well.
“The reflection is mainly very privileged. I’ve got so many amazing memories and experiences that I do look back and reflect on, and I’ve made some amazing friendships along the way as well.”
She picked out Great Britain’s gold medal at the 2016 Olympics as a career highlight, but said the bronze in London 2012 was also “so special because it was a home Olympics and my first.”
Reflecting on winning the gold medal, she said: “It’s hard to explain. When we went to penalties and Holly (Webb) scored the winning penalty, we all just sprinted towards her and were like screaming and crying and hugging each other, so it was all a bit of a blur.
“I think the moment it hit me was when we stood on the podium and received our medals and the national anthem played. That moment of reflection of ‘wow, we’ve done it’ was probably when it really hit home.
“When we stepped onto the field in Rio when we played the final Holland were by far the favourites. But we’d worked so hard on our team culture and you know how we were going to play as a team. We didn’t play on any star individuals, we played purely as a team and I think that was integral in our success.”
Although those two were Georgie’s “standout moments”, another key time in her career came when she was playing for Clifton and getting a phone call from Danny Kerry, head coach of the Great Britain team, asking her to go for a trial with the senior team.
She added that as she didn’t score many the matches where she got goals “naturally stick in my mind”, including one in Rio and London, and the winner in the Commonwealth Games to secure the bronze medal in Delhi in 2010.
When asked who the best players were she had played with and against, she added: “I’d definitely say the best player I played against is Luciana Aymar. She was the Argentinian captain and got World Player of the Year for about seven years in a row or something ridiculous, she was unbelievable.
“Best player I’ve played with, that’s a tricky one, I’d probably have to say Alex Danson. She played in our team in London and Rio, just a phenomenal striker and also an amazing teammate and she always played with such passion.”
Through all her successes, the home support from Doddington and Lincoln has meant a lot to Georgie, who added: “I’ve always been from Lincolnshire and I remember in 2012 we were living in Doddington at the time and the village were amazing.
“When we came back, the postbox had been painted bronze and they threw a little party for me which was really lovely. When you’re growing up you think people are just getting on with their lives and don’t really take much interest in you, and it was really lovely having their support.
“Again, after Rio, the postbox went gold, and I always do come back to Lincoln. We still have family and friends in the area and it’s a very special place to me.
“Obviously, my parents (Robert and Cathy) have been a huge support, driving me to everything when I was little, always there at the end of a phone call, they’ve been my absolute rocks.”