Hockey

RAF Hockey Star Hopeful Of Making Olympics Squad

A Royal Air Force hockey player is hoping to compete for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Senior Aircraftman Liam Sanford has battled back from an injury-hit 2019 to be in contention for the postponed 2020 Games.

He's currently training with Great Britain at the National Sports Centre at Bisham Abbey, Buckinghamshire, and has been part of a recent tour of Malaysia.

"It's pretty easy to say what it would mean," SAC Sanford said."Obviously, it's what you've been working for since you basically started the game.

"It would be an amazing moment – not just for me but for my family and my partner who has supported me throughout this journey.

"All I can do at the moment is keep my head down, focus and do what I can do.

"If I don't get selected, at least I know that I've given 110%."

SAC Sanford has been representing England and GB Hockey almost as long as he's been in the Air Force.

He was named UK Armed Forces Sportsman of the Year in 2017, while 12 months later, he won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.

Liam Sanford Great Britain Hockey Credit GB Hockey DATE UNKNOWN.jpg_.jpg
Senior Aircraftman Liam Sanford impressed on the international stage at the World Cup. (Picture: England Hockey)

Great Britain team manager, Danny Kerry, knows SAC Sanford brings quality to the team and is pleased with his squad's current mood.

He said: "The really good news is that we're a week out from Olympic selection and the mood in the camp is probably the best I've ever known in the 16 years I've been doing this role."

He says they "really appreciate Liam's qualities", saying "the first word that comes to mind is courage".

"I know that may be a bit clichéd in the military context but, genuinely, Liam is someone who has literally put his body on the line if that is what the moment requires," he added.

"That's something the lads absolutely respect in Liam. It's a standout quality of his."

SAC Sanford may have appeared on the biggest stage of his sport but he still has the RAF in his mind.

SAC Sanford playing for England in 2018 (Picture: England Hockey).
SAC Sanford playing for England in 2018 (Picture: England Hockey).

He said: "I see that as my role first in representing them. RAF is my blood really. It's where I've come from.

"I love playing RAF hockey – even the inter stations.

"It's so fun to get back and see everyone, have a laugh and play some hockey.

"I've been in for five years and I've only played one Inter Services. We won, so that was good!

"I’m definitely looking forward to being able to play in a few more in a couple of years," he added.

SAC Sanford was part of the GB team's recent fixtures against Japan and Malaysia while they also have matches against Germany and Spain coming up.