England and GB captain Adam Dixon on 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, self isolation amid coronavirus pandemic, retirement from international hockey and life as captain
England and GB captain Adam Dixon has revealed he planned to retire from international hockey at the end of the year, but has pushed those plans aside as he chases the chance to lead Team GB out to glory at the Tokyo Olympics.
The past month has been a confusing time for athletes from all sports explained Dixon, who with his fiancée, has been in self-isolation after showing symptoms of the coronavirus.
It gave the former Newark Hockey Club youth star, who has turned out more than 250 times for the national teams, time to think about his career and goals moving forward.
“I was going to retire from international hockey at the end of the year,” said Dixon, who plays his club hockey at Beeston.
“I had made plans to do other things, but luckily I can put those on hold and throw everything into the Olympics, because representing GB as a captain has been a massive goal of mine.
“I’ll be 34 this year and moving towards the end of my international career.
“It is quite demanding. Another 18 months will be hard, but hopefully all of those sacrifices will pay off because that is what being an Olympic athlete is all about — getting the good rewards after a lot of sacrifice.”
GB’s hockey stars were asked to train alone in self-isolation, as per Government guidelines in the lead up the decision to postpone the 2020 Games.
“It was a confusing time for many reasons, but like in any sport, myself and the team were working towards a deadline, and to know that the deadline was going to change at any moment threw us into complete carnage,” he said.
“We knew it was very likely to be postponed so it didn’t come as a shock, but for that two week period when things were going into lockdown, it was a feeling of making the most of what we could while having to train as if it was going to go ahead.”
He said the year delay did not change the end goal for his squad, who were all eager to improve on their performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“Our original aim for Tokyo, as cliché as it is, was to take every game as it comes,” he said.
“In Rio, we got too far ahead of ourselves and lost track of the here and now, and we were tripped up by it, so our aim was to definitely make sure we progressed from the group stage and reach the knockouts, which we failed to do in 2016.
“There is no sort of label or goal set in that sense, we knew we weren’t going to be favourites, and that was a good thing for me because I like being the underdog and having that ability to surprise.
“It doesn’t change moving forward either, there will be some uncertainty with international fixtures, but certainly in the six months leading up to the Games, the goal will be to build momentum.
“I was lucky enough to sit down with Andrew Strauss (former England cricket captain) and he relayed that yes, you need a plan, but you need to build momentum first.
“You might win, lose or draw a game, but if you are still working on the right trajectory then good things will happen, and that is what I would have liked to have seen over the next six months, and it is something that I will look at in more detail over the next year and a half.”
Dixon was made captain of the international men’s hockey teams in February 2019 as part of a leadership group including David Ames, George Pinner, Phil Roper and Jack Waller.
He said he had enjoyed the new responsibilities the role had given him as he approached his 14th month as skipper.
“How I operate on a day-to-day basis changed the most,” he said.
“No longer can I rock up to training, worry about myself, focus on getting the best session for myself and come away from it.
“I now look at it in terms of where does the team need to be, where are we at as a group and, even after a training session has finished, you always find yourself thinking, but that suits my personal qualities.
“I really value good, strong relationships and in team sport you can build those.
“There are more challenging teams than not, and I am not a stereotypical Roy Keane-styled captain, who is going to be screaming in everybody’s face.
“There are definitely some moments where I question whether I need to say something, but luckily there is a leadership group between the five of us and we lean on each other and help each other where we can.
“It has been good to have a new focus and it has helped prolong my career — hopefully I am doing okay at it.”
In good spirits having recovered from his illness, Dixon joked the postponement would give him more time to register a few more caps and, hopefully, a few more international goals.