Alumni Award 2021 Winner: Georgie Twigg MBE (LLB 2012)

Olympian Georgie Twigg MBE (LLB 2012) made history as a midfielder for England’s hockey team in the 2016 Rio Olympics, when the team stormed to gold after winning all eight matches in the tournament.

Juggling fulltime training at Bisham Abbey while studying for the final year of her law degree at the University of Bristol, Georgie knows a few things about ambition and working through challenging and stimulating times. As the youngest player in England’s squad at the time, Georgie helped win Bronze at London’s 2012 Olympics the same year she graduated, making her a double Olympic medallist.

Now an Associate at Bird&Bird law firm, Georgie uses her experience as an athlete to advise on sports-related commercial issues. As she accepts the University of Bristol’s 2021 Alumni Award for Achievement in Sport, Georgie shares her insights on the highlights of her sporting career and some life lessons she’s learning along the way.

You can also hear from Georgie at the Alumni Festival in May. Click here for more information on the Alumni Festival and to book your place.

What does it mean to you to be given the Alumni Award for Achievement in Sport?
It’s a huge honour to be given the Alumni Award for Achievement in Sport, particularly given the amazing calibre of sporting alumni at the University of Bristol. Just some examples include England netball player Eboni Usoro-Brown (LLB 2009, MSc 2011) who won the 2019 Alumni Award for Achievement in Sport, rugby players Josh Lewsey MBE (BSc 1998, Hon LLD 2009) and Tom Mitchell (BA 2011), who captained the Great Britain Rugby 7s team at the 2016 Rio Olympics and sailing champion Hannah Mills MBE (DipHE 2013) who won gold at the same Olympics. The 2016 Rio Olympics was a special moment for Bristol alumni.

What do your teammates say to one another before a match?
It really can vary, depending on the game and depending on your teammates! But I think the most important thing going into a match is making sure that everyone’s in the right headspace and they’re up for the game, and everyone is really clear about what their role is.

What is the highlight of your sporting career?
The highlight of my sporting career is definitely winning that gold medal in Rio in the 2016 Olympics. It’s something I’d dreamed about and it was such an incredible experience. London 2012 was equally special though. It was my first Olympics, it was on home soil and we won bronze. I’ll never forget stepping out onto that pitch for the first match, with 15,000 Team GB fans. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it now.

How did you balance finishing your law degree and preparing to play at London’s 2012 Olympics?
I got called up to London’s 2012 training squad as I was coming to the end of my second year of my law degree at Bristol, and so I had a really difficult decision on my hands, because I still had one year left of study. The University of Bristol were fantastic and allowed me to split my final year over two years. So I did everything remotely, which in those days was very rare and quite novel! I just had to go in for tutorials on a Friday. I did the rest of my study back at Bisham Abbey where I was training full time. It wasn’t always easy and I had to be really organised with my time management. But I did like having the two to balance against one another, because both could be very intense and so they were a good escape from one another.

Who is your biggest advocate?
My biggest advocates are definitely my parents. They’ve been such a huge support for me throughout my whole life, and particularly with hockey, acting as a taxi service on many an occasion and standing on the touch line. They were also instrumental in making sure I continue with my studies and prepared me for life after sport. They’ve always been a huge advocate of that. I couldn’t live without my family and friends. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a fantastic support network. Through good and bad times they’re always there at the end of a phone call and I can always rely on them.

Georgie Twigg plays for Great Britain in Great Britain vs. Japan at the London 2012 Olympics. Image by Ady Kerry

What does connection mean to you?
I think connection can mean a variety of things and obviously you can have different connections with different people. But I think what underpins all of that is a level of trust, a level of respect and an ability to be able to communicate well with someone.

How do you look after yourself in challenging times?
For me, it’s the simple things like making sure I have enough sleep, that I’m eating well, and doing exercise. Equally, I try not to be too hard on myself if I’m not doing enough. I also use my support network, pick up the phone, chat with my friends and my family, and talk through any of those challenging times with them.

If you could write a note to your younger self what would you say in three words?
Enjoy every moment. Life can be such a whirlwind and I am definitely guilty of thinking, ‘what next? what next?’ Actually taking a step back and appreciating the things you’ve done and achieved is really valuable, and just enjoying every moment for what it’s worth.

Tell us about a mistake you’ve made that has given you an invaluable lesson
I’m definitely guilty of having said yes too many times to too many things and stretching myself too thinly and burning out. I’ve learnt over time that it’s ok to say no sometimes and to prioritise what’s really important to me and make sure I can properly dedicate my time and energy to those things I genuinely care about.

What would you say to those who are afraid to make mistakes?
I think back to times when I’ve been genuinely terrified before doing something. And those are the things I’ve ended up being really proud of, moments in my life that have generated incredible experiences and times when I’ve learned the most. I just think, if I hadn’t done those things because I was too scared to make a mistake, then I would never have had those fantastic experiences and I would never have learnt so much about myself. So I think I would say, don’t be afraid of making those mistakes because those are the best times to learn and the best times to get the best experiences that you might end up being really proud of.

What do you miss most about being a student?
I absolutely loved being a student at the University of Bristol. The city was fantastic, and particularly now, in the Covid times that we’re living in, I definitely miss living with my friends, having fun, and not being stressed about everything else that’s going on in the world. That’s definitely what I miss most at the moment.

To hear from Georgie Twigg and other alumni award winners, join us for the Alumni Festival in May 2021. Click here for more information and to book your place.

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