Former Hockeyroo Angie Lambert (née Skirving) OAM’s stellar career has been acknowledged with induction into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame.
Lambert was inducted at a glitzy QSport Awards Dinner in Brisbane for recognition of her playing career and contribution to the sport.
A triple Olympian, Lambert made her Hockeyroos debut in 1998 as a 17 year old on a tour of Argentina. On top of her three Olympics, she also competed at two World Cups, two Commonwealth Games and seven Champions Trophies.
Arguably her biggest highlight came when, at the age of 19, she was part of the Hockeyroos team that won gold at the Sydney Olympics.
While never one for individual accolades, Lambert was named the inaugural FIH Rising Star of the Year in 2001 and also in the 2006 FIH All-Star Team.
Her last international tournament was the 2008 Beijing Olympics, capping off a decade long playing career that has now gone into inspiring the next generation of hockey players and giving back to the sport that she says ‘gave her so much’.
Lambert is still heavily involved in the sport as a teacher, coach and mother, and amongst her hectic schedule, she managed to spare some time to tell us about her induction into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame and what she is up to these days.
Congratulations on your induction Angie! To be a former Hockeyroo and be up there joining a list of some of the other greats of Queensland sport must have felt pretty special?
AL: “It’s pretty crazy when you look at the calibre of athletes to come out of Queensland and who is in the Hall of Fame. It was definitely exciting to join some of my team mates on that list and some of the great hockey players who have gone before me, and I’ve got no doubt there will be many more to come. So it was great, particularly for hockey and I always love representing our sport at any stage so I felt very humbled to be inducted.”
Is it correct that you are still heavily involved in hockey in Queensland teaching and coaching, and even playing?
AL: “I’m player/coach of a Division One team in Brisbane called Ascot. They’ve been fantastic in helping me continue my love of the game. I also do a lot of one on one coaching with a number of the rep players here, to try and give them that extra bit of help to get them to that next level.
I love coaching, I love being able to put back in what I learnt from the great girls I was fortunate enough to come in and play with in the Ric Charlesworth era. I think we managed to set the benchmark for Australian hockey at that time so hopefully I can help to pass that onto the next generation and that’s a small way I can give back to a sport that gave me so much in my career.”
Do you think that is one of the unique things about hockey as a sport – that so many players who have played at the highest level tat are still heavily invested in giving back to the game and its development at all levels?
AL: “It’s a hard sport to walk away from because it’s such a family orientated game, and I guess it goes through generations. My daughter has started to play and that’s really exciting…and it’s tough as a parent, now I know what my parents went through, but I love being able to watch the young kids find something they’re good at and get better at each time they come to training.”
When you were inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame and they recapped over your career and achievements, did it bring back any of those special memories?
AL: “It always does. The fact that I was fit back then…that would be nice to feel fit again, but I wish I had even more appreciation at the time. You love what you’re doing when you’re pulling on the green and gold but it’s not until you fully step away that you realise how fortunate you are. I think when you’re immersed in that national program it’s hard work and there is a lot of intensity, a lot of pressure, so that’s tough for the athletes.
For me it brings back those memories of what it was like. I see Jodie (Kenny) sitting at the table next to me and she was a nominee for the Queensland Athlete of the Year, and Jake Whetton was nominated for an award as well, which is fantastic but I also know what they’re going through. They’ve got nine more months to get this gold medal and be on the podium so it’s tough while you’re doing it and then afterwards you look back and think, yeah that was great to be part of.”
Looking back on your international career, is the gold medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney the highlight? You were only 19 at the time so at the time it must have been hard to fully comprehend what you were part of?
AL: “I wish I could have bottled it and be able to play it again, but to be 19 and play at your home Olympics and win a gold medal, it’s hard to ever top that. But I guess different challenges came at the next two Olympics, and to also go to the Olympics in Beijing with my husband Stephen (former Kookaburras goalkeeper Stephen Lambert) and be able to enjoy that knowing it was going to be our last Games was pretty special. It’s hard to top an Olympic gold medal but there were a lot of other really fond memories.”
I’m sure there are many. What are you up to nowadays and what it currently taking up your time?
AL: “I’m currently involved with Moreton Bay College, both of my children go there, so I run the College’s primary and secondary hockey program, and they’re about to put in an artificial hockey surface inside a tartan running track which is really exciting because it will be the only school in Brisbane to have that.
I have two kids, a daughter Lucia who is 10 and a son named Fletcher who is 8. We have our own electrical business of which Stephen is the electrical contractor and we have nine staff, five of which are hockey players and have played for their state so that’s pretty cool – we like to keep the hockey community involved in what we do and they’re great people. So I do the bookwork for that and also do a lot of individual coaching and run coaching clinics during the school holidays to help kids out as much as I can, and it gives me some satisfaction as well.”
Wow. How do you fit all of that in?
AL: “I don’t sit still very well, but the kids definitely keep me busy.”
You still look in really good shape. How is your body holding up and do you still enjoy having a hit and a run around?
AL: “I love getting out and having a hit but I think my body is telling me it’s probably time to slow down. I just found out why my knee has been a but sore after every game and every run I go for…I’ve got a couple more tears in my cartilage so I’m off to the surgeon next week for a clean up. So I think I might be right at the end of my time on the field but if I can keep hitting balls to kids at training then that’s still fun.”
Finally, it would be remiss not to ask you about the current Hockeyroos and how you think they are tracking towards Tokyo 2020?
AL: “I’m a bit of a hockey tragic because I watch every game they play and I get on Kayo and watch all of the Hockey One matches, and I just love keeping up with what they’re doing. They amaze me these girls with what they can do now, with how talented and athletic they are, so I think they’re in with every chance.
International hockey is so close…any team can go to an Olympics and win, and that’s the great thing about our sport. Hopefully the girls have enough depth in the squad that they’re going to push themselves all year and the 16 that get to get on the plane to Tokyo are the best 16 we’ve got at that time. Goodas (Paul Gaudoin) is doing a great job with the team. They’re playing fast, exciting hockey and I really hope they can get back up on that podium and I can see them in with a genuine chance.”