Helen Richardson-Walsh was part of the GB hockey team that beat The Netherlands at the Rio 2016 Olympics and was one of only two players to score during a tense penalty shootout. She is recognised at world level as one of the best in the business.
Midfield maestro Helen is one of the most experienced members of the GB women’s team. Having started her international career in 1999 at the age of 16, she became the youngest ever woman to represent GB hockey at an Olympics in Sydney the following year and has gone on to compete at four Olympic Games. As part of the senior leadership group, she played a central role in propelling the women’s game to victory on the world stage in Rio 2016. As she stepped on to the podium alongside her teammate and wife, GB captain Kate Richardson-Walsh, they also entered Olympic history as the first same-sex married couple to win an Olympic medal playing for the same team.
This success, however, has not always been assured. After glory at London 2012, Helen’s career was threatened at the age of just 23 after she suffered two ruptured discs in her back within 11 months. With two rounds of back surgery, compounded by 3 rounds of surgery on her ankle, consultants warned that it was unlikely she would ever play competitive hockey again.
Alongside Head Coach Danny Kerry and a close-knit team of senior players, they put in place team values and processes to create a winning culture within the squad. Central to this was working as a team to identify the key behaviours that they had to live and breathe every single day, and creating an environment that encouraged respect and support for each other, even while they were battling for selection. ‘Be the Difference, Create History and Inspire the Future’ was their team mantra, and in winning gold in Rio she feels immense pride that they have done just that.
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