Kate Richardson-Walsh: One year on from Olympic Gold

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Posted by Will Hinch - 08 September, 2017

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It's been just over a year since Pitchero Ahtlete Ambassador Kate Richardson-Walsh lead Team GB to Gold Medal sucess at the Rio Olympics.

Since then, hockey's elevation into our sporting pysche has been momnumental. With hockey suddenly on everyone's lips, the sport had a once-in-a-generation opporunity to stay there.

We caught up with Kate shortly after the year anniversary of her Olympic victory to see how the game has changed through her eyes. 

You’ve just come back from watching England at EuroHockey 2017. Both sides finished third, what did you make of their performances?

Both squads look strong and about where you’d expect for a post Olympic year. There is a fresh look to both teams and a new blend of experience and new talent. It’s always a tricky phase as players that were once youngsters in the team are suddenly the experienced old heads.



We’ll see those players stepping up and bringing the new players up to the level required to continue to win world level medals. Lots of potential and it’s going to be exciting to support both squads in the coming years.

It’s been just over 12 months since your Olympic Gold Medal win. How’s the last 12 months been?

It’s one of those weird things where you look back and think I can’t believe it’s been a year but at the same time so much has happened.

I’ve played hockey in Holland, I’ve been travelling, I’ve moved house twice. It’s like starting a new life really. It feels a bit strange. It was so amazing what happened but you have to carry on. It’s nice to have some people who get it because they’re getting it too.

It’s a really exciting, but different, time.


How exciting was it for you to see people suddenly talking about Hockey?

Absolutely unbelievable. I couldn’t fathom that many people had watched us play (the BBC said 9 million tuned into the Olympic final on TV).

The nice thing was going out to clubs and talking to people. I heard a story where people were driving in the south of France and they had to pull over to listen to the end in a petrol station.

People all over the country and abroad were watching us and getting involved in our story - that’s the most special thing.


Have you noticed a change in the public and media perception of hockey since that triumph?

I heard 10,000 people went straight out and signed up to clubs after. Hopefully, that growth will continue.

The recent ballot for the next World Cup, it’s ridiculous how many people have signed up. It’s amazing to see how much it has grown, just got to keep going now.

 

The #HWC2018 ballot shuts at 6pm today! Already entered? What's your ballot story? Family trip? Club day? #hockey

A post shared by England Hockey (@englandhockey) on



The great thing was people who maybe hadn’t watched hockey before seeing how the game had changed. That’s the great thing about the Olympics and Paralympics, you get to hear all these stories and get invested in people’s lives and their journeys.

It’s just about continuing that long-term when things like the football season take over the headlines.

Have you noticed a rise in enthusiasm and participation levels since your Olympic victory?

I’ve heard plenty of stories about clubs, particularly in juniors, that are oversubscribed and have waiting lists now.


It’s just so important that clubs are talking to each other. If anyone wants to play hockey, we need to ensure that they can, and they’ve got somewhere not too far away that they can play.


How do you think hockey can continue to capture the attention and imagination of the public?

At the moment our domestic game isn’t well attended and isn’t really shown on TV.

We can look at Holland, where they have highlights of each game and they show two live games on a Sunday night each week. If we can get to that’d be good. If we can generate that interest around the domestic league and around grassroots - without it we won’t have a national team in the future.

More insight into Pitchero's Olympic Athlete Ambassador

You can get loads more insight into Kate's career in hockey, including a live Q&A we held with her recently, on Kate's Pitchero Ambassador page. 

Topics: Hockey


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