Dutch tactics just drove us on more
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.”
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