Dutch tac­tics just drove us on more

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS - by An­drew Coffey

SLEEP may have been hard to come by for Team GB’s women the night be­fore their his­toric tri­umph in Rio, but Golden Girl Ge­orgie Twigg ad­mits Hol­land’s at­tempts to in­tim­i­date them in the tun­nel were enough to wake them up.

Twigg, still play­ing for Sur­biton and com­plet­ing a train­ing con­tract with in­ter­na­tional law firm Bird & Bird, joined up with Olympic team­mates Hol­lie Webb and Shona McCallin last week for the lat­est in the ‘Live Sport Talks’ se­ries of events in Lon­don.

The three gold medal­lists re­galed a bumper crowd at the Dick­ens Inn with tales from Rio, as well as their thoughts on the up­com­ing cy­cle, ap­proach­ing in­ter­na­tional fix­tures and next year’s Com­mon­wealth Games on the Gold Coast.

And Twigg re­vealed that the GB stars knew they had got in­side Dutch heads be­fore the Olympic fi­nal.

“I re­mem­ber be­ing in the tun­nel about to walk onto the pitch and we were just stand­ing there, but they were whack­ing their sticks on the scaf­fold­ing around them and hol­ler­ing,” she said.

“We may have been the un­der­dogs, but it felt like they were forc­ing them­selves to get up for the game, and that riled us up even more.”

McCallin added: “The noise in the Olympic vil­lage was bad on the night of the Olympic fi­nal; sleep was tough, but we’d got to that stage where sleep didn’t mat­ter so much.

“All that mat­tered was the be­lief that we could win; we had won one and drawn one against Hol­land just be­fore Olympic se­lec­tion, plus the EuroHockey win in 2015, so we knew they just didn’t like play­ing against us at all.

“They’ve said that openly; we’re very or­gan­ised and they are not so used to that, so go­ing into it we were qui­etly con­fi­dent.

“With the stuff in the tun­nel, it felt al­most fake. I didn’t un­der­stand why they had to psy­che them­selves up for it – it was quite bizarre, and it didn’t help them in the end.”

The golden girls’ medals have gone ev­ery­where with them since their vic­tory in Brazil, with ev­ery mem­ber of the squad tak­ing a whis­tle-stop tour of hockey clubs around the coun­try to in­spire a bud­ding gen­era- tion of ath­letes. But Twigg con­fessed that her medal al­most didn’t even make it past the post-match cel­e­bra­tions.

“I did ac­tu­ally man­age to break my medal...on the dancefloor ac­tu­ally,” she said.

“Two nights af­ter the fi­nal, the cel­e­bra­tions were still go­ing strong and I may have been bust­ing a few moves while we were out.

“These medals are pretty weighty things and I was swing­ing it up and down, but next thing I knew the pin had come out and the medal flew off !

“For­tu­nately, as I was still in Rio, I took it to the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Ser­vices and they made me a new one.”

With the new Olympic cy­cle al­ready be­gun, thoughts are al­ready turn­ing to­wards the next step for GB’s women – the Com­mon­wealth Games get un­der­way on the Gold Coast in less than a year’s time – and McCallin feels some new forces in in­ter­na­tional hockey could be ready to come to the fore.

“It’s a tough ques­tion to an­swer ac­tu­ally as at the end of ev­ery Olympic cy­cle, ev­ery team has a bit of a clearout,” said McCallin.

“There are a lot of up and com­ing teams, for ex­am­ple the likes of Spain, who are a very tricky team to play against de­spite their world rank­ing.

“We’ve strug­gled against them in the past, and the Amer­i­can team have risen from com­ing 12th in Lon­don to be­ing a real force in Rio.

“I do think there will be other teams than usual chal­leng­ing at the top; it’s go­ing to get even tighter.”

PIC­TURES: An­drew Cray­ford

Girls on film: Shona McCallin and Hol­lie Webb check out THP, top left, Ge­orgie Twigg, top right, In conversation, be­low left, and golden girls Twigg, Webb and McCallin, be­low right

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