RAF News

Senior Aircraftman Liam Sanford competes at the 2020 Olympic games

Great Britain Men’s Hockey Team, stand in a row with hockey sticks.
The Great Britain Men’s Hockey Team, at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

Senior Aircraftman Liam Sanford is competing with the Great Britain Men’s Hockey Team, at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan.

Liam running for the ball with the Great Britain Men’s Hockey Team on the pitch.
Senior Aircraftman, Liam Sanford is playing at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

Liam joined the RAF in November 2015, completing his Airman Basic Training at RAF Halton and Trade Training as a Flight Operations Assistant at RAF Shawbury. He was then posted to MOD Boscombe Down before RAF Northolt in 2017, where he currently serves.

Hockey player stands close behind opponent for the ball.
Liam Tight Marking a player during the England Under 21 versus India, Junior World Cup 2016.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

Formative Years

In 2014, Liam played with the Great Britain Under 21 Team.  They came second in the Sultan of Johor Cup, held in Malaysia, and secured eighth place in the Junior World Cup held in Lucknow, India.  That same year, Liam received the John Higgins Junior Hockey Award for the 2014 Junior Hockey Player.  The Team returned the following year to win the Sultan of Johor Cup.

Hockey players take Shave Tackle.
Shave Tackle during the England Under 21 versus Argentina, Junior World Cup in 2016.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

Military and Other Honours

Liam’s military hockey career has seen Liam help the RAF Hockey Team win the 2016 Inter Services competition and represent in the County B Pool Championships – and promote the team up to the County A Pool Championships in 2019.

Hockey players on an astroturf pitch.
Liam performs a one handed dribble during the RAF Seniors versus Navy Inter Services 2016 match.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

Liam has also won the RAF Sports Personality of the Year 2017 and UK Armed Forces Sports Personality of the Year 2018.  He then earned a Coaching Level 1 and now coaches Reading Hockey Men’s 3rd Team, Reading University Boys Team, and Buckinghamshire County Councils U16 Boys for the 2018-2019 season.

Hockey players take a Shave Tackle.
Shave Tackle during the England Under 21 versus the Netherlands, Junior World Cup 2016.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

Domestic Hockey

Even during his RAF Basic Training, Liam continued to play League Hockey in the National Leagues, representing Team Bath Buccaneers from 2014 to 2017.  He later moved to Reading Hockey Club at the start of the 2017 season.

Hockey player falls to the floor during tackle.
Wipe Out during the 1st Cap for England Seniors versus Germany, Series Games in Cape Town, South Africa, in Febuary 2017.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

International Recognition

Towards the end of 2016, Liam was selected to represent both England and Great Britain at Senior level; so far earning 35 England caps and 8 Great Britain caps.

The RAF awarded Liam Elite Athlete Status in 2017, to train daily at the National Hockey Sports Centre, Bisham Abbey, where Liam continues to train now.

In 2017, Liam represented England at the World Hockey League Championships, before going on to the 4 Nations competition, the European Championships, and the Sultan of Azlan Shah Cup.

Hockey players take an Aerial Receive for the ball.
Liam takes an Aerial Receive in the Final Ipoh, Sultan of Azlan Shah Cup, in Malaysia; winning a 1st Cap for Great Britain versus Australia, in May 2017.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

The Olympic Dream

In 2018, Liam and the Great Britain Hockey Team achieved a Bronze Medal at the Commonwealth Games but now they face the ultimate goal; the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Opening wins against South Africa and Canada got their quest for gold off to the perfect start.  However, a disappointing defeat to Germany in the third pool match meant they needed to bounce back quickly. 

The Great Britain Men’s Hockey Team, two players shake hands.
The Great Britain Men’s Hockey Team, at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan.  Photo by Frank Uijlenbroek on behalf of Great Britain Hockey / World Sports Pics.

The Team faced the Netherlands during the early hours of Thursday 29th July.  A draw in this fourth pool game secures Great Britain a place in the Quarter Final with the opponent still to be decided.

You can follow Liam and the rest of the Hockey Team’s progress and timings for fixtures here: https://www.greatbritainhockey.co.uk/

Good Luck Liam!

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