Al Annan (Caldas)
Alyson Annan, a key member of the Australian gold medal hockey teams at the Atlanta (1996) and Sydney (2000) Olympic Games, was dubbed by fellow players as “the sharpest shooter in international women’s hockey”. In 1998 and 2000 she was honoured by the international hockey federation FIH with its International Player of the Year award, and players voted her in 1999 as the best women hockey player in the world. Born in Wentworthville, NSW, she earned 228 international caps and scored 166 goals while playing for the national hockey team.
Annan made her international debut against Korea in June 1991 at the age of 17, and built a huge reputation as an attacking mid-fielder during the Hockeyroos’ dynasty of the 1990s, participating in the Olympics of 1992, 1996 and 2000. She later confessed that she did not feel comfortable in the Australian side until 1996, when the team won gold. The visionary coach Ric Charlesworth recognised her genius, although their relationship was reported at times to be testy.
Annan also won gold medals in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Champions Trophy competition of 1993, 1995, 1997 and 1999. It was at those 1998 Commonwealth Games that she became Australia’s highest-ever goal scorer, with 110 goals. At national level her awards included Australian Player of the Year (1990 and 1992) and Player of the Year and Australian Sportswoman of the Year (1996). She retired from international hockey after the 2000 Olympics, and later coached in the Netherlands.
Harry Gordon, AOC Historian