Kate Walsh was made captain of Britain’s hockey team in 2003. She was born in 1980 in Withington, Manchester.
Kate’s initital sport of choice was swimming and practised regularly well in to her teenage years. Her mother was a hockey player and Kate vowed to never play the sport as she hated standing on the sidelines shivering whilst watching her. One day though she tried the sport and loved it. Kate decided then to ditch swimming in favour of hockey as she it meant she could avoid the getting up so early for training.
Walsh made both her England and Great Britain debuts in 1999 and has since gone on to play at the full range of international tournaments – the 2000 and 2008 Olympics, two World Cups, three European Cups, two Champions Trophy, two Commonwealth Games and three Champions Challenge. As a defender she has twice won medals at international tournaments at her hometown of Manchester— silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, and bronze at the 2007 EuroHockey Nations Championships.
In a recent interview about her captaincy and the prospects of the British team this year, Kate said:
“…the Olympic gold is the dream. When I watched it [the Olympics] when I was young I sat there thinking ‘I want a gold medal’. To stand on that podium and hear the national anthem. When I see people in that position you want it to be you and your team.”
It is clear that in Kate we have a great captain, someone who could inspire us all the way this summer. I, along with the rest of Britain hope that Kate’s dream comes true.
My series on outstanding British women Olympians continues today with OlyJane Sixsmith MBE, Britain’s best known hockey player.
Born on 5th September 1967 in Sutton Coldfield, Jane took up hockey at the age of twelve after she was told that she could no longer play for a boys’ football team. She went on to play hockey at club level for her home town was chosen for England’s under-18 squad.
Jane played as a forward scoring many goals for England and Great Britain in many competitions. She is the only British Hockey player to play for Team GB in four consecutive Olympics. Her greatest achievement came in 1992 in Barcelona when she captained the team to a bronze medal.
After retiring from international hockey in 2000 Jane stated:
“Sport has opened up so many opportunities. I’ve travelled the world, competed at every major tournament, winning medals at European, Commonwealth and Olympic level. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my sporting career and wouldn’t change it for anything. If you never have a go, you’ll never know!”
She takes the promotion of sport very seriously and now works for Birmingham City Council as the hockey developer. This involves taking hockey into primary schools, promoting the sport and trying to “ignore the looks of consternation on teachers’ faces at the prospect of excited nine-year-olds chasing each other around with big sticks”.