Hockeyroo Rachael Lynch has claimed arguably the biggest individual honour of her career after being announced as the FIH Female Goalkeeper of the Year for 2019.
Lynch won the award after receiving the highest number of votes, of which 50% of the overall result was made up of votes from National Associations (which included some international athletes and coaches votes), while fans and players (25%) and media (25%) made up the other half of the votes. Click here to see the vote results.
The 33 year old missed out on the accolade in 2018 despite being nominated, but she has now etched her name on the award which has been running since 2014.
Lynch was presented with the award by friend and role model, former Hockeyroos goalkeeper and Olympic gold medallist Rachel Imison, and Hockeyroos Head Coach Paul Gaudoin before the squad’s training session in Perth.
Caught unawares of what was happening before Gaudoin revealed the news in front of the playing group, Lynch admitted she felt overwhelmed by the occasion.
“It’s a huge personal honour. It has been a long career and to have something like this towards the latter part of it is pretty cool,” said Lynch.
“I’m really flattered and can’t thank everyone enough that was involved.”
“2019 was quite a unique year. The introduction of the Pro League was really good for us as athletes, being able to play in front of big crowds at home and also internationally.
“As a Hockeyroos group I felt we made some real progress, and to make some finals and play in a lot of crunch games, it was a great experience for us because they are the times you really come together as a group.”
“There are so many people behind the scenes who play a part in an athlete’s career, and it is nice to think about those people because the journey for me at international level has been for 14 years, so a huge thank you to everyone on that road who helped me along the way.”
Highlights of Lynch’s 2019 comprised being named the Player of the Match as she proved impenetrable when the Hockeyroos defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in her hometown of Melbourne in the FIH Pro League, while she was also announced as the Goalkeeper of the Pro League Grand Final.
“On behalf of the Hockey Australia Board and everyone involved in hockey in Australia, a huge congratulations to Rachael on winning this award,” said Hockey Australia President Melanie Woosnam.
“While hockey is a team sport and every player strives for team success, being named the Goalkeeper of the Year is a magnificent achievement.
“We are really proud of Rachael, and I believe this recognition is one that can be deservedly shared by the Hockeyroos as a collective, including her teammates, coaches and support staff.”
Lynch finished ahead of Maria Ruiz (ESP), Mathilde Petriaux (FRA), Ayeisha McFerran (IRL) and Megumi Kageyama (JPN) to secure the award.
Meanwhile, Kookaburras forward Blake Govers, who was the leading scorer in the 2019 FIH Pro League, has missed out on the FIH 2019 Rising Star of the Year Award (Men), which was won by India’s Vivek Prasad.
The winners of the remaining categories of the 2019 FIH Hockey Stars Awards, which also includes the FIH Coach of the Year, will be announced in the coming days.