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20/05/2020 09:00
“We may not be in charge of what happens in life, but we are in control of how we react to it” – Nicky Osborne
News from the National Federations

Loughborough, England, May 20, 2020. Nichola Osborne played for Team Great Britain for a number of years from 2006 to 2012 with spells in national and collegiate leagues in countries as diverse as Switzerland, Canada, Austria and the United Kingdom. A qualified doctor and now a general practitioner, Nicky has been dealing with the novel coronavirus in England – an experience where she has been making use of the resilience and perseverance as well as of many other values that she learned through her time in Volleyball.

Always a team player – on and off the court

“Reflecting in this strange time of COVID, I realise I would not be doing what I do now were it not for the friendships found in Volleyball and the ways these shaped me. Many treasured friends are from sport, and for that, I will be eternally grateful,” she says. “The year leading-up to London 2012 saw some big roller coaster moments. The highs were ecstatic, while the lows were crushing. I passed medical finals. We had a GB tour to South America, funding had been cut and we were all gearing-up for a final season in European contracts before re-grouping, staying in a fire station in the final prep-phase for London.  Teammates went through extremes of family illness and bereavement. 

All swamped in emotion and focused, with tunnel vision, on making the Olympic squad. I did not make it, among others but July and August 2012 made me a better-rounded human. The squad was all that mattered for so long. I thought it defined me. I joined the club of thousands of other athletes who had once hoped to be Olympians: a quick, hard lesson in humility. I watched proudly my own team compete boldly, a best friend on the beach stage and enjoyed with those also not competing the party atmosphere of London at its best!  The day after the closing ceremony, with my heart pounding, I started my first day as a Junior Doctor.”

Nichola Osborne (#3) during her competitive years in Volleyball

Eight years on, and GP training completed in London, she now loves her work as a GP in Oxfordshire with an interest in exercise medicine. “I get to work in the National Health Service (NHS), with the military, at multi-sport events, Henley rugby club and have been lucky enough to travel internationally with hockey. Over the years, what I learnt while playing has made me a better doctor: communication, mental toughness, empathy, compassion, stoicism and, above all else, how to be a team player.”
What impact has COVID had?  

COVID has been a surreal experience, as you well know! General practice and community care has had its share of tough challenges, but we are all in this together. Remote working is a new normal and it will change the way medicine works forever. There has been a bright spotlight on the amazing and often undervalued work, which carers and social workers do. So many people in the Volleyball network are in key worker roles or helping out in other ways. Former England Captain, Nesse Lucas, re-deployed on the frontline. Ex beach player, Helen Brown, has set up a charity in Costa Rica to help deliver food to families who have none, and has humbly shared some of these experiences. There are many other examples.
What is keeping you going?

Connecting with people! WhatsApp groups, sharing ideas with friends across the globe, Zoom chats with old teammates have been key. Whether Australia, Canada, USA, Europe, or Costa Rica - we are better connected than ever.

What is the hardest part of the current pandemic?

The hardest part, professionally, is not being able to have that face-to-face and decent communication with patients when they are unwell, or to provide the same level of routine care - our relationship is not the same. Like many though, it is incredibly hard not to see my family.  My sister has breast cancer and has been on chemotherapy so is shielding. Her days remain exceptionally difficult, COVID or not, and it has been very hard not to be able to have long hugs! Her roller coaster, like for many others with cancer, towers above most of life’s other challenges. We talk often though, which is a huge positive, as days have slowed down. We may not be in charge of what happens in life, but we are in control of how we react to it.

A charismatic person on and off the court - Nicky Osborne is now showing the same commitment as a general practitioner

Thank you!
As Janine Sandell said to me after the Olympics, “you realise, when it’s all over, that your family and friends are the team that is left.”  Sport prepares you for life, it rounds you, it teaches you to put your hand up, ask for help when you need it, and to identify the times when someone else might need your kindness and support.    

So let’s raise another glass to those no longer with us, and get in touch and catch up with those who are during these challenging times. When sport finally gets going again, I look forward to taking a moment, breathing in the excitement, the raw emotions, the connections and the celebrations of life it affords us. The next sporting season after all this will be epic.

Many thanks to the Volleyball England Foundation, the charitable arm of Volleyball England, for contributing to this story. For further information, visit

Many thanks to Lynne Marshall and Michael McConville for providing archive photos of Nicky during her years with Team GB (

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