It was a memorable weekend for the Great Britain women’s hockey team as they not only qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but also lifted the World Hockey League trophy.
Unbeaten through their five group matches, the team travelled to Valencia full of confidence and duly delivered when it mattered most, holding on for 1-0 victory over Germany before dispatching of China 2-1 the following day to be crowned champions in the second edition of the event.
Lining up in the Great Britain team were no fewer than five Loughborough graduates; Giselle Ansley, Maddie Hinch, Hannah McLeod, Laura Unsworth and Nicola White. All five Loughborough graduates played an active role in making sure the team progressed and will now have their sights set firmly on a trip to Brazil in just over a year’s time.
For Laura Unsworth the tournament marked her 150th combined England and GB cap, whilst goalkeeper Maddie Hinch played a starring role, keeping Germany at bay in the semi-final before again being called into action in the dying moments of their final triumph.
Speaking from Valencia, Hinch said:
Words can’t really describe the feeling. We came here with qualification in our mind and we’ve taken it one game at a time and done a job. To book a spot at Rio, we can’t be happier. We’ve got a great team back home and an incredible goalkeeper coach in John Hurst, so I felt good coming into this competition and once the nerves settled I enjoyed myself.
You can’t fault us. We’re hard to score against and we’ve scored some nice goals. At the minute we’re learning and making progress and we’ll keep doing so. I’m excited for the future.
The squad headed to the semi-finals knowing that a top three finish would secure Olympic qualification, and they performed above expectation conceding only two goals in the whole of the World Hockey League, winning all seven of their matches.