Olympics: Nicola White seeks legal advice over GB Hockey’s "systemic failings"

British hockey player Nicola White is seeking legal advice over her treatment by GB Hockey

British hockey player Nicola White revealed to Telegraph Sport she is considering taking legal action against GB Hockey, claiming the governing body treated her poorly as she struggled to recover from a debilitating head injury.

White was part of the British team which earned Olympic gold at Rio 2016 and bronze at London 2012. She was seriously concussed during a warm-up game for the Commonwealth Games in 2018, and spent two years away from hockey as she battled to recover from the injury.

The 33-year-old returned to club hockey last October, but has been unable to return to the GB programme. White was told last year she had no chance of earning a spot on the team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a conversation which left her at "rock bottom", according to Telegraph Sport. She has "slumped back into quite a big depression" and her symptoms for post-concussive vestibular migraines have relapsed.

White claimed she was denied a fitness test or trial by GB Hockey, and that the governing body failed to reschedule her return-to-play assessment after it was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I needed to show I was fit enough, that I could play hockey," she said. "Being told that the reason behind the decision was ‘You’ve been out for two years’ I feel was quite disappointing."

GB Hockey responded to the claims in a statement: "We worked very closely with Nicola and her support network following her injury in March 2018, with support and bespoke medical care in place through to early 2021.

"We have had regular meetings with Nicola seeking to support her and ensure clarity about optimal medical care, broader support and clarity about a potential return to the Great Britain programme."

Hockey player Nicola White struggled to return to the GB programme after a serious head injury

GB Hockey added: "Her initial injury management followed International Guidelines on the management of concussion injuries. Throughout her injury Nicola was managed extensively by the Great Britain Hockey medical team, the medical team at the English Institute of Sport as well as external experts in this area. At all times Nicola’s physical and mental wellbeing were the main priority.

"In November 2020 Nicola requested clarity with regards to her potential return. At this point, we communicated that unfortunately, with such limited international match play opportunities between December 2020 and Olympic selection in May 2021, and with such limited training and match play for Nicola over the preceding 2.5 years, we did not see her realistically challenging for selection. The door remained open for her to return in the future."

It is not the first time the treatment of a British hockey player has been questioned. England Hockey apologised to Suzy Petty last year after admitting there were "shortcomings" in the way it handled her axing from the GB programme. The 29-year-old was battling an eating disorder when she was dropped.

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