Anna Flanagan playing for Australia at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Anna Flanagan playing for Australia at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Frank Augstein

Ex-Hockeyroo admits to making 'a very, very bad decision'

FORMER Hockeyroos star Anna Flanagan has opened up on her year from hell in 2016 after bring convicted of DUI and subsequently missing out on the Rio Olympics.

Her Olympics campaign was effectively ended when it emerged she had been charged with drink-driving and had kept it secret from Hockey Australia officials.

Flanagan, who was fined $1000 and had her driving licence suspended for 10 months, eventually went to Rio as a Hockeyroos reserve and watched on as her teammates missed out on a medal.

Speaking on Bill and Boz on Fox Sports News 500 on Wednesday night, Flanagan explained how the decisions she made contributed to the most destructive period of her life.

"I haven't spoken about it properly until now because it was a really, really hard year mentally," she said. "When I got the DUI it wasn't as the media publicised it - I was at dinner, it was a Wednesday, it was wine with dinner. I don't condone it at all. I made a very, very bad decision.

"And because of that we didn't really have protocol of what to do next in terms of: 'Who do I tell? Where do I go?'

"The advice I got was basically to protect the sport, to protect yourself, when you get your punishment, do your time. Go along with that."

The 25-year-old Flanagan said keeping her DUI conviction a secret impacted her severely.

"Of course the media found out everything," she said. "But those three months, where I had to keep that under wraps, were the worst three months of my life, having that hanging over me.


epa04240405 Anna Flanagan of Australia cheers after she scores against Belgium during a group stage match in the women's tournament of the Field Hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands, 05 June 2014.  EPA/EVERT-JAN DANIELS
Anna Flanagan of Australia cheers after scoring against Belgium at the 2014 World Cup. EVERT-JAN DANIELS

"All the girls I trained with, they knew something was wrong. The coaches were meeting with me every week, saying: 'You just don't seem all there.'"

Having first played for the Hockeyroos at age 18 and having earned more than 100 caps for her country, Flanagan was distraught at not being able to play in Rio.

"So it was just that whole period, and then obviously being dropped just before Rio. If I'd played those (preceeding) tournaments, I probably would have - pending how I went, if I'd bombed out maybe not - basically gone to Rio. To be named as a reserve, you try to make the most of it but it was really, really hard."

Flanagan earned her spot back in the Hockeyroos teams after Rio until it was revealed she had broken team protocols and subsequently took a break from playing.

She says she was burnt out by all that had happened in 2016 but is ready to resume her hockey career again.

"By the end of the year the pressure was so much, I was like 'I'm going to work my arse off, I'm going to get back and do everything I can', but I was overtrained," Flanagan said.

"I was so burnt out. It had been a huge eight years preparation. Obviously I'd started young. I just needed that break. And I really love playing now and I want to be back."