FOR most people the Olympic Games were a time of wonderful memories; a once in a lifetime opportunity to embrace the very best of the sporting world in a vibrant city.
And in some aspects Great Britain hockey star Alastair Wilson would share that point of view. The 28-year-old was part of the Team GB squad that came close to winning a medal before falling short in the semi-finals against the Netherlands and then in the bronze medal play-off match with Australia.
This weekend Wilson will return to Sheffield Hockey Club, where he began his journey to two Olympic Games, to meet old friends and catch up with family. But while he’s sure to receive plenty of pats on the back for his sterling displays at the heart of the British defence he has been left having to apologise for not sharing the same sense of overwhelming joy at the Olympic experience.
He said: “It feels strange trying to explain that I was disappointed by the outcome in London because the Games were seen as such a great success.
“I’m a sportsman though and I want to win, so to have two chance to win a medal at the Olympics and to lose both of them was hard to take.
“Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed the Olympics. The best thing was the way everybody got so into and threw themselves into all the sports.
“I love football and always have, but it has been hard for me after the Games to have the same enthusiasm for it because of the way the other sports were supported.”
Born in Dronfield and a former student at Meadowhead school and Sheffield College, Wilson first picked up a hockey stick at Sheffield Hockey Club as a five-year-old. He played for Sheffield until moving to Nottingham Trent University and linking up with Premier League club Beeston in the same city.
However, hockey has been pushed to the back of his mind by more mundane matters since returning from holidays in America and Egypt with partner and Olympic swimmer Fran Halsall. Despite being one of the best players in the world at his chosen sport Wilson is searching for a job.
“I’ve not really played since London,” he said. “I’ve taken the opportunity to take a break from the game and to try and find work. I had a run out the other night and I really enjoyed it. I’ve missed seeing my mates, but I won’t be rushing back.”
Wilson was part of a new generation of players that came into the British squad after the Athens Olympics in 2004.
He’s already passed up the opportunity to travel with the England team to the eight-nation Champions Trophy in Australia next month.
Nobody knows better than Wilson of the four-year grind between Olympics and he says he’s torn between carrying on until Rio de Janeiro in 2016 or allowing a younger set of players to establish themselves.
“At the back of my mind I want that Olympic medal. To come so close in London is hard to take,” he said.
“There’s a lot of us unsure about what we’re going to do. When we came in after Athens that was seen as ‘our time’ for our generation. I’ve not 100 per cent made up my mind what I want to do yet - I think the decision in made in April next year to see what kind of funding kicks in again.”
For now, armed with a business studies degree, Wilson wants to become a key part in a team off the hockey field.
“The problem is I’m not sure what to get in to, I’ve always been a hockey player,” Wilson said.
With more than 100 caps for England and 65 for Great Britain there’s no doubt Wilson has a track record of success.