Lily Owsley: Unleashing the competitive 'animal' within

Lily Owsley Scores Rio 2016
Lily Owsley is one of those players it’s almost impossible to avoid noticing on the hockey pitch.

With pace to burn, stunning control and unbelievable stamina, the Hampstead & Westminster player is never far from where the action is taking place.

However it’s arguably another quality that makes her stand out more than anything else – her passion and desire to win.

This is something that has seen her put in some of her best performances on the biggest occasions. She scored in the semi-final and final of both the 2014 Commonwealth Games (where England won silver) and the 2015 EuroHockey Championships, where England famously claimed gold in front of 5,000 adoring home fans.

She then notched four goals – including scoring in the final – as Great Britain won that incredible gold at Rio 2016.

Speaking with fellow England and GB international Emily Defroand on #CuppaNNatter last week, Owsley explained why she thinks this is the case.


“I don’t play hockey to train, I play hockey because I love games and big competitions,” the 2015 FIH Rising Star of the Year stated. 

“I feel like, putting everything else aside, my biggest strength is my competitive edge and my desperation to win at all costs at times. So when it comes to a big game you have so much more to lose – when it comes to a final you’re either going to win or lose it, when you’re playing in a semi you’re either going to make the final or you’re not. 

“I don’t think I turn up just for the big games, it’s probably just my desperation to win is higher or my competitive edge is higher and that ‘animal’ comes out a little bit.”

As with many elite athletes though, this level of competitiveness is not solely limited to their sporting arena.

This can often spill over into ‘normal’ life too, including something as innocent as playing board games with family members.

The 25-year-old said: “I think it’s innate. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen out with anyone in my life but if I were to it would be over a game of something like Monopoly. Ask my friends from home, nobody wants to play games with me anymore. 

“It’s whatever element of my life it is – I can’t even tell you about my family quizzes, it’s a nightmare. Anything with any form of competitiveness, I think I just can’t help myself – I just turn into a monster. 

“I wouldn’t want to be around myself when we’re playing Articulate or even holiday tennis. You hate that person that takes it that seriously and I’m that person. I hate myself for it but I can’t help it. 

“That comes straight into my game of hockey. As soon as I cross that line I just want to win and that’s maybe where that aggressiveness comes from and that desperation or desire to win. I think it’s just in people and in some aspects of your life it’s good.”