Koolen gets her Olympic chance but admits mixed feelings after club mate’s injury

Sanne Koolen has told hockey.nl she has “mixed feelings” following her recent induction into the Dutch central panel for the Olympic Games.

She was initially on the outside but Ireen van den Assem – whom she has played with for Den Bosch for the past number of years – was forced out of the competition through injury to open the door.

It continues a strange run of tournaments for the Dutch defensive line-up with one of their list being injured for each of the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 and 2021 Euros with Koolen an ever-present and performing well each time with gold medals each time.

“I think it’s very close in the back [for selection],” she told hockey.nl. “The differences are not that big. Alyson [Annan] was in a luxury position that she could choose from several defenders. 

“I think I’ve done a good job all this time. I’ve played some nice tournaments. In the past period I have also participated in all our international matches. I felt like I was comfortable. I also had a good feeling about the European Championship. The fact that I subsequently lost my spot for Tokyo was a hard blow to me.”

“I had really hoped I would be in the group of sixteen.  I also had a conversation with Alyson and she told me to stay sharp because you don’t know what’s going to happen and you see that now.

“Ireen’s injury left me with mixed feelings. I know her well, of course, from Den Bosch. I really wished she could go to Tokyo. She has worked very hard for it.

“On the other hand, I’m naturally happy for myself. I have turned the corner and am going full steam ahead. For me, personally it is fantastic that I have the opportunity to realise my Olympic dream.”