Olympic gold medalist Maddie Hinch and two-time hockey Olympian Dan Fox have won the prestigious UK player of the year awards for 2016, chosen by members of the Hockey Writers’ Club.
The awards were made at the Club’s annual awards presentation lunch on Wednesday January 25, 2017 at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, Knightsbridge, London.
Goalkeeper Hinch played a starring role in Great Britain’s gold medal win in Rio, denying all four of the Netherlands’ goal attempts in the shootout that decided the final after a 3-3 draw in normal time.
The 28-year-old was the clear winner in the poll of club members. She finished ahead of fellow gold medalists, retiring GB captain Kate Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb, the defender who scored the decisive shootout goal in the gold-medal match. The women’s award was sponsored by Investec again this year.
Hinch takes the award for the second consecutive year, having caught the eye of the voters last year in a similarly stunning shootout win for England over the Dutch in the final of the 2015 European championships at Olympic Park in London – a result that qualified Great Britain for the Rio Olympic Games. She currently plays for SCHC in the Dutch league, but played for Kent club Holcombe in the 2015-16 season.
Hinch also won the award in 2013.
Maddie Hinch said: “It is a great honour to pick up this award which is made extra special off the back of so many strong individual performances in Rio. It has been such a massive year for the team and there have been so many outstanding performances in the squad, for the Hockey Writers’ Club to vote for me out of everyone who did so well makes it more special than ever.”
“It has been an incredible year for the team and for the sport in general. As a group, we knew we had the potential to beat anyone in the world. It was just a case of getting it all together at the right time – and Rio was the stage where it happened. We just put ourselves in our own little bubble over there, focused on ourselves and took it game-by-game. And it really worked.
“The reaction has been amazing. I have hardly met anyone who didn’t watch the final. After what was the most successful Team GB performance ever, for people to be picking out the hockey as the highlight of the Games is what we dream of as a group. We are just so pleased to inspire so many people to want to play the sport.”
Defensive skills also caught voters' attention for the men’s award, with Fox winning the player of the year award for the first time in what was his final international season. The men’s vote was close with the Holcombe defender pipping GB skipper, and club teammate, Barry Middleton into second place. GB goalkeeper George Pinner completed a one, two, three for Holcombe. The men's award was sponsored by Mercian again this year.
In June 2016 Pinner also won the Chris Moore Salver which is presented annually by the Hockey Writers’ Club for the outstanding performance by a Briton in a designated major tournament. Pinner produced a notable goalkeeping display as Great Britain finished fourth in the Hero Champions Trophy at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
Fox announced his international retirement late in a year which included his second Olympic Games. In Rio, the 33-year-old reinforced his reputation as a fearless penalty corner runner and a strong defender despite Great Britain finished ninth in the men’s hockey tournament.
Dan Fox said: “ I am very flattered to win. It is a great honour and something I didn’t really expect. Having retired from international hockey a few months ago, I had put that behind me. I am really delighted.
“For GB men’s squad it was an up-and-down year. We put in some good performances and then clearly there was the disappointment of Rio where things didn’t quite go our way.
“For me, leading the Great Britain side – in Barry Middleton’s absence – at the World League Finals in Raipur [in late 2015] was a hugely proud moment. I played well there, but as part of a team that did well.
“What was best about that tournament was we took a quite a young squad, but we competed. We beat Australia 5-2 which was the biggest win we’ve had against them in a number of years. Alongside all those other blokes who were playing well it was a great opportunity to prove myself and take a leading role in the side.
“The club hockey I’ve played at Holcombe, and Hampstead & Westminster before that, has been a big part of my success. I feel lucky to have been part of the Great Britain programme for so long and to have gone to two Olympic Games.”
Fox lined up for England 101 times and for Great Britain 63 times, scoring twice.