May 24 2013 Latest news:
Lee Power, Olympic Reporter
Saturday, August 11, 2012
First hockey medal for 20 years
Great Britain’s women’s hockey team ensured they did not leave the London 2012 Games empty-handed by beating New Zealand in their bronze-medal play-off.
Beaten by Argentina in their semi-final two days earlier, GB claimed their first Olympic hockey medal since 1992 and only the women’s second ever after a 3-1 win over the Kiwis.
Danny Kerry’s side dominated possession possession in a scrappy first-half but were unable to find a breakthrough.
They appeared fully refreshed after half-time, though, and quickly found their stride, breaking the deadlock when striker Alex Danson dived to deflect home a penalty corner in the 45th minute.
It was 2-0 a quarter of an hour later, with Crista Cullen converting a trademark flick from another penalty corner to send the Riverbank Arena crowd into raptures.
And GB made sure four minutes later, as Sarah Thomas scored a carbon-copy of Danson’s earlier effort by deflecting home another penalty corner.
New Zealand grabbed a goal through Stacey Michelsen from a penalty corner of their own with two minutes remaining, but it was only a consolation.
Cullen said: “This is an incredible achievement after the disappointment of 48 hours ago, where our dreams were shattered because a gold medal was what we’d spoken about for four years.
“After that we showed why we’re such a good unit and we picked each other up, took a good hard look at ourselves and said we weren’t going home with nothing.
“We gave everything we had today, this team has fight and grit in bucket-loads and I’m just so proud to be a part of it with a medal around my neck.”
Captain Kate Walsh recovered from a broken jaw earlier in the tournament to captain her side to bronze and added: “It has been a whirlwind two weeks. The semi-final result to Argentina was pretty devastating and hurt a lot, but we know each other so well and I just knew we’d be ready and we’d be on it.
“We all had this unwavering confidence that we were going to get something from this tournament, and once we couldn’t get gold we made sure we were going to get bronze.”
Head coach Kerry revealed he had learnt a lot from the team’s performance at Beijing, where they finished sixth, adding: “I’m content, that was seven and a half years of work that went in to this.
“You always hear medal winners saying they just kept going or just kept coming back, and you’ve seen that here with Kate (Walsh) and the rest of the team. After the semi-final we were obviously disappointed but I knew we’d be good to go and that comes from a lot of hard work.
“I learnt a lot from the last Olympic cycle and it was a very tough review process after the Beijing Games. People told me some home truths about my ways of working and at the time I felt betrayed because people were saying some pretty tough things about me.
“So it was a real process of trying to understand myself better and being able to work better with others and I realised how essential that was, so I set about making sure I did so with the girls.
“I honestly think if I didn’t have the experience which I did in Beijing then we would not have medalled here. I expect all my athletes to work hard and make changes they have to, so I have to expect that of myself as well.”
Great Britain’s men, including Old Loughts youngster Harry Martin, Hampstead’s Dan Fox and Surbiton trio Matt Daly, James Tindall and Robert Moore, will hope to emulate their female counterparts when they face Australia on Saturday afternoon.