Golden girl Maddie Hinch tells GB hockey players: Forget Rio – let’s write our own story in Tokyo ‘
The 32-year-old, who grew up in the Hill Head and Stubbington area, captured British hearts at Rio 2016 as her shooting exploits propelled the nation to glory, writes WILL JENNINGS.
Hinch saved all four Dutch penalties after a 3-3 draw and will once again take part in the Games as the British team launch their title defense against Germany on Sunday.
This summer’s squad is almost unrecognizable from those Rio heroes as only six players remain from the one who won gold in Brazil.
Hinch has issued a rallying cry to Danny Kerry’s young squad and wants them to do things their own way to crown a ‘bonkers’ back-to-back triumph.
Hinch, one of over 1,000 athletes participating in the UK’s national lottery-funded world-class program, said: “I look back on 2016 and it really makes me smile.
“It was positive and we wrote a real story with this group – but it’s a different group now. It is important to try to write our own story with this group and to write our own story again.
“We can’t try to replicate what this team did in Rio – we have to go out with our own team and really be accountable for ourselves.
“I just can’t wait to see what this younger group can do – we’re going out with a bit of a target on the back, but we’re proud to do it and we’ll defend our title.”
Captain Kate Richardson-Walsh captained the GB team until Rio 2016 nirvana, but will be absent this time as defender Hollie Pearne-Webb, 30, takes the leadership reins.
Experienced Laura Unsworth is ready for her third Games while Shona McCallin, Lily Owsley and Giselle Ansley are among those heroes who have won the gold medal to appear again.
Precocious duo Izzy Petter, 20, and Fiona Crackles, 21, are the youngest members of the squad, but Hinch insists Team GB’s strong character means they are equipped with the tools to rise to the challenge. the challenges the Games will bring.
“We are a very tight-knit group,” added Hinch, who is able to train full-time, access the best coaches in the world, and benefit from cutting-edge technology, scientific and medical support through to the World Class program funded by the UK National Lottery. .
“This year has brought us together and our culture is very strong. Our mutual support is one of the strongest I have ever known – we really want the best for each other and we have each other to lean on.
“It’s a really nice place to be – and we have to make it one of our strengths, so when we’re going through a tough time, we come together and bounce back quickly.”
Hinch’s unforgettable gold medal in Rio is one of 864 glittering medals won by athletes from Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Olympics and Paralympics since the advent of national lottery funding in 1997.
She knows adding to that goal in Tokyo would solidify her legacy among the greats, but remains firmly established ahead of their five Group A clashes – starting with the Germans on Sunday.
When asked what the GB team would defend their title for, Hinch said: “That would be crazy.
“I know what’s coming up if it does this time around – I would definitely be better prepared for it. I think about it, then I try to get over it as quickly as possible.
“There is so much to do between now and then – this first game is just huge in terms of conviction and momentum. That’s all I’m thinking about right now.
Before heading to Tokyo, Hinch’s training schedule included time in a thermal chamber, which pumps temperatures up to nearly 30 degrees.
His 22-pound goalie kit only added to an intense training routine.
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