Alyson Annan of Australia and Stephan Veen of the Netherlands are the winners of the FIH Player of the Year awards for the year 2000. Both players played a leading role in helping their countries to win gold at the Sydney Olympics. It is the second time each of them have carried off the prestigious awards. They were the winners when the outstanding skills of the top players were first recognised two years ago.
The two players were presented with their awards at a dinner in Paris in November which was attended by a large international gathering of the hockey family. The dinner, held on the occasion of the FIH Congress, was hosted by the French Hockey Federation, one of the seven founder members of the FIH, who are celebrating their 80th year. Both players admitted to being thrilled to have won this prestigious award for the second time. Annan, 27, said that she was excited to receive the award in front of such an international audience. She said it capped her year after winning the Olympic gold on home soil, and admitted, "winning the FIH Player of the Year for a second time was more difficult, as everyone else trains that much harder in an Olympic Year".
Annan has scored 162 goals in 218 internationals for Australia and in 2000 scored 19 goals in 26 tests. Stephan Veen, the Dutch captain, scored three goals in the Olympic final in Sydney, and the decisive last penalty stroke, which gave the Netherlands their title. Asked about the pressure of the penalty situation, the 30 year old said, "When we had to take penalties in the semi-final against Australia, I took the fourth one. I didn't really feel any extra pressure having to take the fifth one in the final". The he added, "But I did enjoy the celebrations on the pitch afterwards".
Veen to retire
Veen has announced he is retiring from international hockey, at the age of 30, after playing 337 internationals and leading his country to all the world's major titles. He scored 84 international goals. His leadership qualities on the field will be sorely missed. Without doubt, this award is a fitting end to a very successful 12 years in the international game. The trophies were presented to the winners by the FIH President, Juan Angel Calzado who praised both players, commenting, "Alyson and Stephan are truly an excellent advertisement for hockey. Their hard work and dedication to our sport has helped them to earn these prestigious awards."
Alyson Annan received 37 points from the judges and finished ahead of New Zealand's Mandy Smith who had 29 points and Argentina's Luciana Aymar with 27. Stephan Veen obtained 30 points, while Sohail Abbas (PAK) and Baljit Dhillon Singh (IND) both received 22 points.
Other players nominated were:
Men: Jorge Lombi (Arg), Piotr Mikula (Pol), Teun de Nooijer (Ned), Song Seung-Tae (Kor).
Women: Kate Allen (Aus), Nikki Hudson (Aus), Vanina Oneto (Arg), Jane Sixsmith (Eng and GBR), Carole Thate (Ned).
This year's panel of judges were: Marelize de Klerk (RSA), Maurits Hendriks (Ned), Khalid Hussain (Pak), Ray O'Connor (Irl), Patrick Rowley (Eng) and S Thyagarajan (Ind).