Eloise Laity has already gone further in the 2018 Commonwealth Games than she did four years ago in Glasgow.
In 2014 the Welsh hockey midfielder was forced to fly home on the day of the opening ceremony after badly injuring her knee in the final warm-up match before the competition. That was against India, Wales’ first opponents in the Gold Coast on Thursday.
“The injury happened in the last training game before the competition started, and the day before the opening ceremony four years ago. I slipped and tore my cartilage,” said Laity.
“I had to go to the medical centre and I found I had to go home, which was devastating. At 9.30am on the day of the opening ceremony I was on a flight back home.
“The last four years of hard work have all been worth it to be back at the Commonwealth Games. It has been a bit of a battle and I had to take a complete step away from hockey for a year.
“I couldn’t run for three months afterwards and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to come back. When I first came back after a year I found I still couldn’t play because my knee kept locking.
“I had surgery in May, 2016, and had the cartilage removed. Since then, everything has been pretty good and when I came back into the senior women’s squad I found we had a new coach, new squad and a new environment – it has all been very, very exciting.”
Laity, 23, was introduced to hockey by her PE teaching mother. She can also boast former Wales B, Cardiff and Neath centre Colin as her father.
She made her Wales debut in 2014 during a Test series against Canada and only returned to the international stage last year, earning selection for the World League Round 2 in Malaysia.
Formerly with Penarth Ladies, she now plays in the Premier League in England at Buckingham HC. She graduated from the University of Bath in chemistry last year and now works as a publishing editor with a scientific company.
“My greatest challenge has definitely been in overcoming the disappointment of the 2014 Commonwealth Games. It took two years of hard work and rehab to regain my place in the Wales squad,” added Laity.
“The first two years after Glasgow were really hard, but the last two back with the girls have been fantastic. Both the men’s and women’s teams have been climbing up the rankings in the last few years and we have surprised quite a few countries.
“Now we want to do the same thing again and rattle a few more cages. India is our first game, which was the first thing that struck me when I saw out schedule, but I’m taking it as a bit of a sign – get that game out of the way and I’ll be up and running.
“We will take a lot of confidence from the European experience we gained in Cardiff in September and we want to go as far as possible in our pool. There is a real buzz about Welsh hockey on both the men’s and women’s sides at the moment.”
Wales Women’s Hockey Schedule
Thursday, 5 April: Wales v India
Saturday, 7 April: Wales v England
Sunday, 8 April: Wales v South Africa
Tuesday, 10 April: Wales v Malaysia