Hockey: Team GB's women claim bronze in historic campaign

New
Zealand 1 (Michelsen 69) Great Britain 3
(Danson 44, Cullen pen 61, Thomas 65)

It really said everything about the agonies that the British women’s hockey players have brushed away on the way to an historic bronze medal that the broad smile worn by captain Kate Walsh last night hurt her like hell.

She’s the GB player whose jaw was fractured by a hockey stick in the opening game Japan and who was back six days later to face China, with a titanium plate stitched into it. The 'nerve block' Walsh applies before each game was beginning to wear off in the afterglow of victory over New Zealand yesterday but in the circumstances she could take that. “I am hoping I can sleep lying horizontal tonight. I’ve had to be at a 45 degree angle,” said Walsh who has been living on a diet of liquidized food and chocolate milk shake since her teeth “ended up in another part of my mouth,” as she so delicately put it.

Walsh has delivered a few home truths to the world of football, where you’ll find a fair amount of scoffing about ‘field hockey,’ despite the fact that a broken metatarsal can put paid to a player’s World Cup. But the 32-year-old is also a motif for way these women have hunted down their medal.

They’re arguably British women’s field sport’s most intelligent group of individuals, whose coach Danny Kerry was not spared their unsparing analysis after finishing sixth at the Beijing Olympics. Kerry revealed last night that he had been crucified in anonymous player debrief reports, which left him contemplating walking away. The crux of their analysis appears to have been that Kerry thought it was all about him, and not them. “I was absolutely driven at Beijing about thinking it was about me understanding hockey better than the opposition coach. I just tried to feed the world on hockey alone and I forgot about the players. People gave me some home truths and I felt betrayed,” Kerry said. “But once I got past the whole denial and anger bit, I [made] myself change, which is only what I would expect of my athletes.”

The players’ dissatisfaction seems mildly harsh. Britain outperformed their world rank ninth in Beijing, after all. But that’s the women’s hockey squad for you. They have closeted themselves away at Bisham Abbey since 2008, developing the “gold medal” mentality which explained the scenes of open devastation which followed the semi final defeat to Argentina in midweek. The conditioning coach was thrown into the swimming pool that night, which seems to have helped the squad get it out of their system. The results of their work were revealed in full splendour yesterday when they put aside the debilitating heat and the pressure in this arena to overwhelm their opponents.

When first half domination had delivered nothing but deadlock and when the blacksticks has emerged more enervated after the interval, it was the stand-out player in their ranks who provided the necessary magic. Alex Danson’s leap towards Walsh’s flicked corner allowed her to deflect it into the net from a prone position, at full stretch. “Kate can have three quarters of that goal,” Danson insisted. “My job is just to get on the line and get a touch.” This was too humble.

Crista Cullen made it 2-0 just after the hour with a low finish from another short corner, delivered just high enough from the ground to make it difficult for Russell as she leapt to her right. The joy was unbridled when Sarah Thomas made it 3-0, deftly deflecting in a Walsh shot. An infringement from Cullen allowed a short corner to the Kiwis which Stacey Michelsen deflected in. But the game was long gone for them by then.

The significance of this win may be greater than the players yet know. The four-year Rio round of UK Sport funding, succeeding the £15.3m awarded in the last round, is dependent on the men and women securing at least one medal between them. With the men facing the indomitable Australians today, this hockey medal may be the only one Britain get. “The people who succeed in life are the people who just keep coming back,” Kerry said. “I knew we would be good to go. I knew.”

ends

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform