It was all White on the light de­spite SPOTY Late Show

The Hockey Paper - - FEATURE | SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR - by Rod Gil­mour

NI­COLA White has ad­mit­ted to “pre­par­ing for a big night” as the Great Britain women’s team turned the BBC Sports Per­son­al­ity of the Year on Sun­day night into their own ver­sion of the Late Show.

View­ers had to wait over 90 min­utes be­fore any glimpses of hockey, be­fore the team came on stage and Kate Richard­son-Walsh was in­ter­viewed ahead of her bid to win the main in­di­vid­ual award.

Ul­ti­mately, there were no awards but the party was only just be­gin­ning for the rest of the squad – as made clear by Richard­son-Walsh’s 4:30am tweet that she was eat­ing crum­pets with BBC pre­sen­ter Clare Bald­ing, who had also just been added to the team’s What­sApp group af­ter a night of danc­ing.

“As soon as we all saw each other back­stage, the feel­ing was just great,” said White, who scored the vi­tal goal to send the Olympic fi­nal into a shoot out. “It was a shame it was only now that it was the first time we were all back to­gether, but you can’t help that.

“Not to be to­gether for months af­ter such a long awaited time, ev­ery­one knew it would be a good night and we were pre­pared for that.”

When The Hockey Pa­per spoke to White on Mon­day morn­ing, it sounded as if she was feel­ing the ef­fects of the af­ter­after party, but she then re­vealed that was suf­fer­ing from a throat in­fec­tion. “Ev­ery­one said it felt like you had a heavy night and I said ‘no, I’ve had half a beer!” she said.

White has de­served more than that since her re­turn from Brazil. She has made over 70 pub­lic ap­pear­ances since Rio with 35 of those be­ing school vis­its in the Old­ham area.

“I didn’t plan on it be­ing that big,” she said. “I went back home but I thought it would be im­por­tant for me to go back into schools.”

“When my Olympic dream started it came at school. I just felt it my

duty to bring some hap­pi­ness back to Old­ham. We have had the town be­ing re­gen­er­ated and it was a good time to use the in­spi­ra­tion side.

“It snow­balled from hav­ing 10 schools booked in over three months to three schools per day. It’s been re­ally tir­ing but worth­while. Old­ham hockey has told me that loads of ju­niors have gone down to train and for me that’s been the best thing.”

The quirks of Olympic team sport meant that Sun­day night was also the last time they would likely be all to­gether as a win­ning team.

“It’s sad but that’s what hap­pens,” added White. “It hap­pened af­ter Lon­don and it’s emo­tional but we took it for what it was on Sun­day night and rem­i­nisc­ing the sum­mer meant that we en­joyed the mo­ment.”

White will re­turn to full time train­ing next month but not be­fore a rare ex­cur­sion to the ski slopes af­ter Christmas.

She said: “We don’t re­ally get to ski. We prob­a­bly shouldn’t re­ally but it’s the only time we can is af­ter an Olympic Games. Last Christmas I was hop­ing we could all go as a big fam­ily group, a sort of big cel­e­bra­tion for this year, what­ever was go­ing to hap­pen. Whether we had come first or last, it is a way of say­ing thank you to them all.”

PIC­TURE: Eng­land Hockey

Golden girls: L-R – Hol­lie Webb, Joie Leigh, Shona McCallin, Ni­cola White, Ge­orgie Twigg, Lily Owsley, Mad­die Hinch, Crista Cullen, Giselle Ans­ley and Alex Dan­son.

Get­ting the vote: Andy Mur­ray is pre­sented with his Sports Per­son­al­ity of the Year award by Len­nox Lewis

PIC­TURE: @stephen­far­rell1975

Cap­tain mar­vel: Kate Richard­sonWalsh was up for the main in­di­vid­ual SPOTY award

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