It’s been an incredible year for Team England board member Alex Danson and her teammates, but this is only the beginning.
The Women’s GB Hockey team made history in Rio to beat back-to-back Olympic champions The Netherlands in a nail-biting round of penalty shuffles, bringing home Britain’s first ever hockey gold.
“When we scored our last goal with eight minutes left to go, that took us to 3-3, and we knew we just had to hold on,” Alex told us.“We felt confident – it’s very much a psychological game, you have to keep hold of your nerves, and when you score, stay nice and level – we’d done lots of practice in that, and we had Maddie in goal.”
Having given themselves entirely to the sport and done lots of work over the last two years with a sports psychologist to define the team’s visions, values and behaviours, the result was inevitable.
They’d worked so hard for this – and put everything in place so that it could be achieved – now all there was to do was execute the plan.
“We always give everything we can in training, and work incredibly hard. We’d beaten the Dutch on shuffles before, and when it happened there was a bit of a steadfast look between us that said ‘OK we’ve got a job to do, we can do this – this is our time’.It was just an amazing feeling in the end when it felt like we’d ticked all the boxes, and then Holly scored that final goal… just amazing.”
Olympic gold is only the start. With the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup in London less than two years away, the team are already turning their attention to life after Rio.
“The Gold Coast is going to be just fantastic, it’s less than two years away, so there’ll be a natural momentum and excitement building towards it now.We’ll have lots of new players coming in, lots of youngsters, and a few retirements, so we’ll set down a vision that works for that group.The team in Glasgow lost the gold medal in the last 11 seconds, so there’s definitely a sense of unfinished business and to become Commonwealth champions would be incredible, so of course we’re hoping for that”.
But that’s not enough either, says Alex:
“We’ll always be working towards becoming champions in every performance that we go into, and to be World Champions in your home country, would be just phenomenal”.
A European, Olympic, Commonwealth and World Champion Women’s Hockey Team – we like the sound of that, don’t you?
Stay tuned for more Gold Coast goals from Team England board member Alex in the coming weeks, and vote for her to be crowned 2016 SportsWoman of the Year at sportswomanoftheyear.com