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Capt Courageous Enters The Record Books

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It was the 2012 Olympic Games that saw Kate Richardson-Walsh break into public consciousness after she courageously led Great Britain to the bronze medal despite suffering a broken jaw in the middle of the pool matches. Until then, Richardson-Walsh had been well-known in hockey circles, now she had become a national hero.

In the recent six match test against Australia, Richardson-Walsh was again in the limelight, this time proving that not only is she captain courageous, she also has remarkable staying power. Since making her debut in 1999, Kate Richardson-Walsh has represented her country at three Olympic Games, four Hockey World Cups and four Commonwealth Games. Her medal tally is immense, although that bronze medal and the gold medal from the European Hockey Championships in 2015 certain have pride of place.

In the fifth match against the Hockeyroos, Richardson-Walsh strode into the record books, becoming Great Britain and England’s most capped female hockey player, with 365 caps to her name.

Assistant coach to the team Karen Brown had held the record for over a decade and she was on hand to see her own record go: “While the record is not something I have thought a great deal about over the years, now that it has been broken, a part of me will be sad to see it go. However, as with all records they get broken one day and Kate has had such an incredible career that it is fitting that such an inspirational athlete who I have had the privilege to see grow from the quiet teenager that I played alongside towards the end of my career, into the hugely

influential leader and skilled hockey player that she has become.”

Coach to both England and Great Britain Danny Kerry added: “Kate exemplifies many many qualities you wish to see at the very highest levels of sport, however the one quality that sticks out to me above all others, and the one I feel is within all truly great players, is that of resilience. Kate’s longevity and perseverance in the international game has seen incredible low points, but has consistently found a way back and this quality has meant she has achieved medals at Commonwealth, European, World and Olympic level.

“This was never more evident than when Kate broke her jaw in the opening game of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Having had surgery to plate her jaw back together, and having only missed two matches, Kate came back to lead the team to Team GB’s first team sport medal in 20 years. I could describe countless other examples of this resilience. Kate, like other high achievers in the Olympic domain, finds a way to keep going, keep pushing herself on and has been an inspiration to so many as a result.”

 

Other team members have been queuing up to pay their respects to the captain.

"Kate epitomises everything that an elite athlete should represent. Her professionalism, her fight and the way she leads the side sets her apart from the rest.”says goalkeeper Maddie Hinch. “It’s difficult to put in to words just how much of a legend she truly is! I look up to her every day. She inspires me to be better and we are blessed to have such a brilliant captain.

“Kate has been a consistent rock in the back line for so many years, putting her body on the line and cutting through teams with her eye of the needle passes; these are just a few things that make her the world class player she is. She thoroughly deserves this landmark and recognition."

Lily Owsley, the FIH Rising Star of 2015 echoes Hinch’s sentiments, adding:

“Kate is an unbelievable captain, player and friend. The length and success of her career is testament to the hard work she has put in and the ability to drive everyone around her. I feel so honoured and proud that I have been able to play a handful of these caps with her. She’s an absolute legend!”

There are certain phrases and recurring themes that come up whenever her team mates speak about Richardson-Walsh. Fight, drive, determination, professionalism, inspiration, world class, leader, dedication and legend are just a few of those. Her no-nonsense, never-say-die attitude as well as her almost telepathic ability to read what an attacker is about to do has made her a thorn in the side of many a striker over the years and has led to Richardson-Walsh becoming a household sporting name as well as a player synonymous with this Great Britain side.

The final word goes to the woman herself, who spoke after receiving her 365th cap: “It was a really special moment to be out there today with Helen [Richardson-Walsh]. We’ve played together so many times and we’ve been through so many ups and downs so it was really special to share this with her.”

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