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Lots of flags from around the world with teh Paris 2024 logo at the right hand side

Three Durham alumni and a graduating student have been selected for the men’s and women’s Team GB hockey squads ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics this summer.

Goalkeeper Ollie Payne (Sport, Health & Exercise, Josephine Butler College, 2017-20) and defender Jack Waller (History, College of St Hild and St Bede, 2015-18) were announced as part of the men’s squad. The Paris Olympic Games will be their second Games for Team GB.

In the women’s squad, graduating student and midfielder Fiona Crackles (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Collingwood College) will compete in her second Olympic Games, having won a bronze medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Tess Howard (Geography, University College, 2017-22) makes her debut in Paris this summer as a forward.

Fiona Crackles

Fiona grew up around hockey from an early age. Her mother was a hockey umpire, and her older brothers also played and she showed passion and talent for the sport from the get-go. She was picked for the England under 16s and under 18s teams whilst still attending the comprehensive Queen Elizabeth School in Cumbria. A glittering hockey career was on the horizon.

After a gap year, she applied to study at our Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, feeling like she belonged after having visited Durham regularly as a youngster for hockey fixtures.

She joined the Hockey Club and in her second year was voted team captain. It was also in this year that she had the opportunity to play for Team GB in Holland and Belgium. Shortly after returning to student life came a call asking her to join Team GB again, this time as part of their 2020 Tokyo Olympics squad. All within a 10 month period! Most recently she was part of the England team that won gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Tess Howard

Since joining her first hockey club at the age of 11, Tess has been a pioneer for women and girls’ sport in numerous ways. She made the most of her time at Durham - as well as being a member of University College Hockey Club (where she was the first woman invited to play in the men’s College league), she was also in the University Hockey Club. She made her debut as a professional hockey player for England and Great Britain in 2018, and was named England Hockey’s Young Player of the Year 2018. This accolade was followed by becoming our Sportswoman of the Year in 2019, The Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year’s Changemaker Award in 2023, and featuring in the Telegraph’s Top 50 Most Influential Women in Sport in 2023. She currently has over 80 caps and was part of the England team that won gold in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, alongside Fiona.

Tess studied part-time in order to compete as a professional athlete for England and Great Britain Hockey. She excelled in the academic sphere also, being nominated for the Royal Geographical Society’s Best Geography Dissertation award, and winning the Moyes Prize for the Best Dissertation at Graduation. Her dissertation focused on exploring how sports kit and body image concerns for women and girls affects confidence, performance and participation levels. Since graduating, Tess has continued to explore her dissertation topic, using it to bring about significant changes at a national, and subsequently global level in women and girls’ sport.

Ollie Payne

Ollie first tried goalkeeping for a women’s hockey team, after having started out playing football. His passion for the sport saw him continue to University level hockey. While at Durham, Ollie was part of the team that won the 2018 British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Championship. After an outstanding three years representing our Hockey Club, he was awarded England Hockey’s Emerging Performance Player of the Year in 2020.

Ollie’s hockey career began an upwards trajectory after playing for Great Britain in the under 21 team that won the 2018 and 2019 Sultan of Johor Cups. He was invited to the Team GB squad in July 2020, culminating in his selection for Team GB in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Ollie earned his spot on the England hockey team as first-choice goalkeeper at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where the men’s team won bronze.

Jack Waller

Jack has played at international level since 2013, progressing to the under 21 side where he led the team to a European Championship Final as captain. He played with our Hockey Club and lists one of his proudest hockey achievements as winning the 2018 BUCS Championship with the Durham team.

His England and Great Britain debut came in 2018. He has competed in three European Championships (winning silver in 2023) and the 2022 Commonwealth Games (winning bronze). He is an experienced Team GB player, with over 100 senior England and GB international caps to his name. The 2024 Paris Olympic Games will be his second Olympics following the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.



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