Hockey: Team GB women hope to create legacy for future generations

 

Team GB's hockey captain Kate Walsh hopes that the team's success at the Games could secure a legacy for the sport and inspire their successors.

Team GB’s dream of winning the London 2012 title ended with defeat to Argentina in last night’s semi-final, but victory over New Zealand tomorrow would mean Walsh and her team-mates finishing the Games with a bronze medal.

Nearly all of Britain’s players were in tears after the 2-1 loss. But despite the disappointment, Walsh is optimistic about the future. “It would be a fantastic achievement to win bronze,” she said. “The legacy we want from these Games is to get girls back out playing hockey.

“We want to get them out there going to clubs, playing rush hockey, playing indoor hockey. We want hockey out there and we want more people playing.

“It’s a massive hockey family and it’s so welcoming and warm and it’s so inclusive. We need more people watching, playing and enjoying hockey and if we could get a bronze, it would help that, absolutely. Success breeds success, and that’s what we want.”

Before the next generation of Great Britain hockey players start to work towards the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, the current crop are determined to end their campaign at the Riverbank Arena on a high note.

Defending champions Holland face Argentina in the final after overcoming New Zealand in a shoot-out following a 2-2 draw. That leaves the Kiwis and Great Britain to battle for the final medal, and the home team are in no mood to let it slip from their grasp.

“We are not going home empty-handed,” vowed Walsh. “We’ve fought too hard and been through too much. There are girls who aren’t here and we owe them. There are also our friends and families who have been there throughout this tournament.

“Will it be hard to lift ourselves for the bronze-medal match? Not a chance. We have been in this position many times before as England, Scotland and Wales, and now as Great Britain, and we will fight for that bronze medal.

“The British crowd have been outstanding. We couldn’t have asked for any more from them, and we want it again tomorrow. We played really well against Argentina and to lose in the way we did was heartbreaking. Now we will give every ounce of everything we have to make sure we end the competition in third place.”

The impressive Argentines were 2-0 ahead at half-time, although the British team complained bitterly about the second from Carla Rebecchi as they believed Argentina had committed an infringement in the build-up.

Alex Danson scored for Great Britain late in the game, but they could not break down a well-organised Argentina defence and had to accept defeat.

Nicola White added: “We were very unlucky that we couldn’t get a second goal because we had the belief that we could do it. We came here aiming for gold and that is why everyone was so upset at the end of the match.

“Now the main thing to focus on is the bronze-medal game. We’ll prepare for it and we will fight and fight. We won’t come off that pitch until we’ve got a medal.”

New Zealand were equally devastated after their painful shoot-out defeat against defending champions Holland. It was the first time in Olympic history that teams could not be separated after extra-time.

Dutch goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek saved three of New Zealand’s first four efforts while Naomi van As, Eva de Goede and Ellen Hoog all scored to ensure Holland would defend their title in tomorrow night’s final.

“It was an advantage as we’ve already played a shoot-out in big tournaments, in finals,” said Dutch player Kim Lammers. “You can’t train these nerves with this audience and pressure. That was an advantage for us today and finally we won.”

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