On the Road to the Paris Olympics with Kookaburra’s Tom Craig from Lane Cove

In the Cove, first met 28-year-old Australian Hockey player Tom Craig in 2018 when he received a Lane Cove Citizenship Award for his sporting achievements on the Hockey field.  At the same awards ceremony, his brother Ben was also recognised for his Hockey achievements.

Since then, we have kept track of Tom and his achievements.  Tom has played for Australia 122 times and scored 40 goals. Tom hopes to be named in the Australian Hockey Team to play at the Paris Olympics in July/August 2024.  ITC will be tracking his progress over the next couple of months, and we hope our readers will also go on this journey with Tom.

The Beginning

Tom first started playing Hockey when he was five years old.  His family had recently returned from Canada, and the boys kept asking their mum if they could play ice hockey. Tom’s mum thought it would be better if the boys played field hockey.  The boys joined the  Ryde Hunters Hill Hockey Club, aka The Panthers (who will celebrate their 90th birthday this year).

Tom has always been fast and did (what so many other Lane Cove kids have done) attended Little Athletics at Rotary Field.  However, he knew that Hockey was his true passion.

Tom and Ben thrived at the Panthers and played junior and senior games at the Club. Tom was selected to play for NSW.

Tom was a student at Mowbray Public School, then Chatswood Primary and for secondary school, he attended North Sydney Boys High.

After leaving North Sydney Boys High, Tom enrolled in a Bachelor of Laws at Sydney University.

Photo Supplied Tom Playing for NSW at ten years of age

Move to Perth

Each year, HA runs a scholarship program that supports up to 27 elite athletes per gender in the National Programs.  Tom is one of those 27 elite athletes.

To participate in this programme, a player must relocate to Perth, where the Hockey Australia (HA) High-Performance Unit is located.  The High-Performance Unit is a centralised training program that supports the development and performance of the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras.

Tom relocated to Perth at the beginning of 2015 and has been back and forth between Perth and Sydney ever since.  He spent most of the COVID lockdown in Lane Cove after the 2020 Olympic Games were postponed.

Hockey One League

Tom plays in The Hockey One League with NSW Pride.  This national hockey league allows fans to see the best compete in fast and exciting games across Australia. The league has been running for three seasons and is played from September to November.

The Hockey One fixture features 21 doubleheader days and a family-friendly format, giving fans of all ages and abilities a chance to experience world-class hockey.  Look out for the games on 7 Plus after the Olympics.


Brothers in Arms

Last year was a big occasion when Tom and his brother Ben played for NSW Pride. Before that, Ben played for the Canberra Chill.

The Brothers both have law degrees.

Road to the Olympics

At the Rio Olympics in 2016, Tom was named a reserve in the Kookaburra Squad. At the Tokyo Olympics, he was picked for the main squad.  However, Tom was dealt a cruel blow when he injured his hamstring in the Kookaburras’ game against Japan.  The Kookaburras would win silver in a tense Gold Medal match that ended in a penalty shootout.

Tom played two seasons with Dutch Club Klein Zwitserland – (21/22 and 22/23).

Tom wants to go to his third Olympics, but he must wait.  Olympic team selection does not take place until the end of June 2024.

In the meantime, the Kookaburras will compete in several lead-up tournaments.  When ITC interviewed Tom, he was going to the airport to fly to India for the FIH Pro League.

Kookaburras coach Colin Batch has said the Kookaburras couldn’t get 2024 off to a better start. The team boasts a near full-strength squad to select from as it prepares to kick off Olympic preparations at the FIH Pro League in India.

The fight for a spot in Paris is heating up, and Batch has made it clear all players will need to perform consistently in India and at their next Season 5 Pro League series in Europe.

“There’s a great focus in this squad right now,” Batch said.

“We’re reaching the pointy end of our Olympic campaign, the run home in 2024 to what we’re all focused on and what better way to get back into competition than with a challenging FIH Pro League series against top teams.”

“It’s not just about scoring well in India; it’s about preparing well on tour and acting just as we expect in Paris in July.”

The Kookaburras opened their campaign against Spain on 11 February 2024 before facing the Netherlands, India, and FIH Pro League newcomers in Ireland.

Tom’s Life Outside of Hockey

Tom was recently admitted as a solicitor.  He started his law degree in 2014 at Sydney University and then transferred to Macquarie University because it offered more options for studying online. He finished his degree in 2020.

Like most elite athletes, Tom must work and train.  There are very few Olympic Athletes who can train full-time.  He recently finished working as an in-house lawyer for APM.  APM is a global health, employment, disability, and workplace services provider supporting more than 2.1 million people across 11 countries annually.

Tom’s partner, Alice Arnott, is also a hockey player.  Like Tom, Alice hopes to be picked for the Hockeyroos Paris Olympic team.

Tom likes to return to Lane Cove and meet up with his mates when possible.

His family only recently sold their Lane Cove North house so his father could relocate to Adelaide for work.

However, Tom told ITC that he would return to Lane Cove frequently.  He loves eating at The Canopy restaurants, and one highlight for Tom was after the Tokyo Olympics, he could eat Chargrill Charlies free for a year (and he told us he was a frequent visitor to Chargrill Charlies in Lane Cove.  He is a big fan of their salads (and, of course, their fries).

Tom’s Role Models

Tom told ITC he was honoured to play with one of Australia’s greatest athletes, Eddie Ockenden.  Eddie is 36 years old, has played for Australia 427 times, and scored 72 goals.  It will be Eddie’s fifth Olympic games at the Paris Olympics.  This is an incredible achievement for an athlete in a team sport where players must be on top of their game to be selected.

Looking Ahead

Tom will be over the moon if he makes the Paris Olympic team.  In Tokyo, there were no crowds, no atmosphere and sadly, no families to cheer them on.  This time, his family and friends will make the trip to Paris, who can’t wait to see Tom in action.

ITC will be keeping track of Tom, and we look forward to seeing Tom with a gold medal around his neck in Paris (no pressure, Tom).  It will be a battle for the Australian team to win gold in Paris, currently the team is ranked number 6 in the world.

Cover Photo: Supplied

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