England star Jo clocks up the miles

IT IS a bitterly cold Tuesday evening at a deserted Tuddenham Road, home to Ipswich Hockey Club.Jo Ellis is very apologetic at arriving late for our interview after getting held up in traffic en route to Ipswich.

IT IS a bitterly cold Tuesday evening at a deserted Tuddenham Road, home to Ipswich Hockey Club.

Jo Ellis is very apologetic at arriving late for our interview after getting held up in traffic en route to Ipswich.

Home to Ipswich's brightest talent is Kneesworth, a village near Royston in Hertfordshire - a one-and-a-half hour journey away.

Travelling long distances is something that Jo has become accustomed to over the past decade in her quest to play hockey at the highest level.

She joined Ipswich - one of the top four clubs in the country and the nearest to her home - as a 14-year-old on the recommendation of a friend.

She was living in Cambridgeshire at the time before attending Brunel University in west London which meant around a three-hour trip to Ipswich - “I hardly ever missed a session,” she said proudly - for training and matches.

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Her job as a professional coach at The Leys in Cambridge, where she works afternoons only, allows her scope to fit in her hockey commitments.

Besides training and playing her lifestyle, like any top sports person, also involves weights sessions, running and swimming - and keeping an eye on her diet.

Joe, who is also a member of the Team Ipswich Elite Squad, said: “We are given all the nutrition books and talks and know what we are supposed to eat.

“When we are on tours they know what you are eating. You want to prepare the best you can, and you are not going to do that if you eat a diet of chocolate and ready meals!

“We do get body-fat-tested and if there are any issues the coach will come and talk to the individual concerned, but I have never had a problem with that.”

The biting wind of an English winter will give way to the end of an Australian summer when Jo arrives Down Under next week.

The squad will be spending 10 days at a holiday camp in the Melbourne area before going to the village where all the competitors will stay.

“We will be in Australia for around a month - if we get knocked out there will still be classification games to play - and if we get to the final I think we will have just one 'free' night.

“Everyone thinks you are going somewhere to have a good time, but in reality you see the hotel and the pitch and just catch the bus between the two!

“I spent two weeks in Argentina and went out just twice for dinner - I didn't see any of the country at all.

“It can be a bit frustrating but it doesn't prey on my mind. I am there to play hockey and not there for a holiday.

“If you do have a day off then you are pretty knackered anyway!”

Just 10 days after Jo returns from Australia she will be leaving for Rome, where England will be playing their World Cup qualifiers starting in late April.

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