Hockeyroos defender Karri McMahon is one of those people who just grab life in all its glory. Despite some horrendous injuries - a fractured jaw, a stress fracture in the foot and a broken leg amongst them – she has amassed more than 150 caps for Australia and is a key member of the Hockeyroos defence.
Hailing from a sporting family, McMahon could have chosen many sports to specialise in but hockey was the preferred option. Away from the pitch, McMahon is a paramedic and has been active in the global fight against Covid-19.
In this interview, the affable defender talks about her proudest hockey moments, her determination to always ‘drive and strive’, and the baking and running challenges that are keeping the entire Hockeyroo squad connected and on their toes during lock down.
Who or what first influenced you to pick up a stick and play hockey?
Karri McMahon: “My mum took me down to a local hockey park in Queensland in Brisbane and I never really looked back. My parents were very ‘outdoors’ people and I loved getting out and doing whatever sport. I loved swimming, baseball and softball and hockey and mum took me to the local park and I haven’t stopped since.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Karri McMahon: “I would have to say Jason Duff. He was my first defensive coach in the Australian national team. I think coming in as a 19-year-old in my first Olympic year in 2012 was a huge learning curve and quite daunting when you are so young and so excited.
If there was one sentence to sum up your playing style or attitude on the pitch, what would it be
Karri McMahon: “I guess I feel that the ball should do more of the work. I am extremely quick, so I do use my speed but it is a team game so I like to use my speed and release the ball when I’ve got it.”
What moment on the pitch are you most proud of and why?
Karri McMahon: “I’ve had a few, I’ve been very lucky with our group. I would have to say the 2014 World Cup in the Hague was an absolute highlight. We bona silver medal there and it was probably one of the proudest moments of my playing career so far. To be surrounded by so many people, in an incredible stadium, after an incredible World Cup, both men’s and women’s, was something I will hold on to for the rest of my life.”
It has been four years since Rio 2016, how have you changed as a player in that time?
Karri McMahon: “I’ve had two major knee surgeries since then, so it has been a lot of learning about my body and how I respond best. I am a more resilient person than I was four years ago. I’ve learnt a lot about how to do work and get the most out of myself and how to be patient during that time. I’ve also finished my degree in para-medicine so that was a huge moment for me. I’ve been working towards that moment for eight years – so that was really exciting. I finished the degree in 2018 and since then I have picked up two jobs with St John’s Ambulance here in Perth so I have been out on the frontline during this pandemic recently. I also work with our major sponsor AusDrill in injury management so that has been a shift, doing a couple of jobs and being a full-time athlete as well.
How will the squad make up for the training time that has been lost during Covid-19?
Karri McMahon: “For me this feels like an altered perspective. The goalpost shifted, we went into a different phase. We were in the top part of the preparations heading towards Tokyo, so we have been able to regroup, have a bit of a rest and we have now gone into a physical phase where we can get some really good games over this time, which we might not have had time for before.
It is also a great way to get our team even closer together. It makes us appreciate the time we have had or the time we will have. It will make our bond even stronger because we really want to stay connected. I don’t feel like we have lost any time. We have a bunch of challenges floating around – a 10 kilometre run or a five kilometres time trial – and I am sure that our physical fitness will only get better as we get back on the pitch. For us, it is refresh, refocus and look at where the end goalposts are, which are not in July 2021. This is a great way to begin our new preparation phase.”
Profile*: Karri McMahon - Australia
Shirt number: 11
International appearances: 153
Place of birth: Townsville, Queensland
Club: Adelaide Peas