What a fantastic couple of weeks we’ve just had. We went into the tournament with our aim being to come top three as that would secure us Olympic Qualification for Rio next year. But even better than that we won every game and won the whole tournament!
I think this is testament to the hard work we’d put in back at Bisham Abbey. Day in day out we train together as a 31 woman GB squad and everyone is fully committed to being the best athlete they can be. Not only is that on the pitch or in the gym but also working hard with the nutritionist, psychologist and video analyst.
A couple of weeks before the tournament started we went out to Valencia for what we called “death camp”. Hockey training, matches v Spain and extra running on top of all that! But there’s a reason for that. So when you’re dying in the last minutes of competitive matches, you know you’ll get through it and your team mates will get through it with you.
Having arrived for the tournament a week before it started we had time to settle into the hotel and have some good training sessions on the pitch. It’s nice before the tournament starts to have a bit of an explore of the city as once you get going rest days are ‘feet up in the hotel’ time. I really took to Valencia with its’ beaches but also its’ old town. One of the coaches did a team quiz one night and I normally pride myself on being OK at quizzes. Well with picture rounds of stadiums in the UK, stadiums around the world and guess the Olympic flame it’s safe to say I wasn’t on the winning team!!
Our first game was against Spain and we knew it was going to be a tough one as they were the home team and have improved significantly in the last few years. Getting that first win was a huge relief and I think helped us really kick off our campaign in the tournament. We were absolutely delighted to have topped our group winning all our matches but we knew that that could all mean nothing if we were to lose our quarter final. There were definitely some nerves pre-game against South Africa as so much weight lay on the result but another solid performance saw us win 2-0 and through to the semi-finals.
When the final whistle went to end our semi-final there were a lot of celebrations. To be honest we didn’t play well in that second half against Germany and had to defend for our lives to get the win. But that win meant Olympic qualification and we were over the moon!
I know we’d said top three was our aim of the tournament however we’d come this far not losing and we weren’t going to lose to China in the final. A fantastic end to a brilliant tournament for us as GB and I think a great stepping stone for us to build on over the next year.
After we got back from Valencia a lot of us went away on holiday in desperate need of some relaxation! I managed to escape to Morocco for a week which was just what I needed. I was watching the GB men’s games whilst away and it was brilliant to see them do so well too and it just means both teams can now focus everything towards next year.
We are now fully back into the swing of things training hard at Bisham Abbey. Our next competition isn’t far off as we’ve got the EuroHockey Championships in London at the Olympic Park in August. We’re all really looking forward to getting back playing on home soil and I absolutely love playing with the support of the home crowd behind you.