Hockeyroo Lynch judged world's best keeper

Rachael Lynch has been named the best goalkeeper in women's hockey.
Rachael Lynch has been named the best goalkeeper in women's hockey.

The Hockeyroos will officially boast the world's best shot-stopper at the Tokyo Olympics after Rachael Lynch was awarded goalkeeper of the year by the International Hockey Federation.

Lynch, who played a key role in Australia's march to the 2019 Pro League final, edged Japan's Megumi Kageyama and Spain's Maria Ruiz to claim the prize.

Lynch received 35.2 per cent of combined votes, with the award factoring in the opinion of national associations, media, fans and players.

The 33-year-old was presented the award by 2000 Olympic gold medallist Rachel Imison and Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin prior to a training session in Perth.

"I'm overwhelmed. It's a huge personal honour," Lynch said.

"It has been a long career and to have something like this towards the latter part of it is pretty cool.

"I'm really flattered and can't thank everyone enough.

"2019 was quite a unique year. The introduction of the Pro League was really good for us ... we made some real progress and to make some finals and play in a lot of crunch games was a great experience.

"It was a really good year but all of us are thinking about Tokyo 2020, so it's hard to look backwards a little bit."

Imison was Lynch's idol before she became her mentor and friend.

"It was a huge treat to see her but also receive the award from her," Lynch said.

"I've looked up to Rach my whole career, since I was a junior, and was very fortunate to play a lot of my Victorian hockey with her then also at the international level.

"She's been a massive part of my career."

Lynch, Australia's most-capped keeper who celebrated her 200th-game milestone last year, thanked family, teammates and coaches.

"There are so many people behind the scenes who play a part in an athlete's career," she said.

Lynch was part of Australia's Rio 2016 campaign, when they crashed out at the quarter-final stage.

The Hockeyroos are hunting their first Olympic medal since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Their Pro League campaign continues on March 6 against Argentina in Perth.

Australian Associated Press