On the day the Olympic Flame arrives in the UK, the British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced the selection of the 100th athlete to Team GB, with the announcement of the 16 athletes who will represent Team GB in women’s hockey at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Since the 2008 Olympic Games, Team GB hockey athletes have won medals at eight major World or European competitions. The run of success includes England’s bronze medal victories in the World Cup, European Championships, Commonwealth Games and Champions Trophy, Scotland’s bronze medal at the Champions Challenge and European Championships II and Great Britain’s recent silver medal at the Champions Trophy.
The team will be looking to improve on their sixth place finish at the last Olympics in Beijing and inspire the nation by challenging for a medal in London this summer. They are currently ranked fourth in the world, having enjoyed a consistent rise up the rankings from 11th over the past six years under the leadership of Head Coach Danny Kerry.
Great Britain won the Olympic test event at the Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park earlier this month; beating world number two team Argentina in the final, just three months after losing to the World Champions 1-0 in the final of the Champions Trophy.
The squad, which includes players from Scotland, Wales and England, was announced at the London Stock Exchange on Friday morning. Captain Kate Walsh was responsible for officially opening market trading.
The selected athletes are: (Name, born, hometown, age)
Ashleigh Ball (Brighton, Cheltenham, 26)
Laura Bartlett (Glasgow, 23)
Crista Cullen (Boston, London, 26)
Alex Danson (Southampton, Odiham, 26)
Hannah Macleod (Huntingdon, 27)
Emily Maguire (Paisley, 23)
Anne Panter (Wellingborough, 28)
Helen Richardson (Hitchin, West Bridgford, 30)
Chloe Rogers (Great Dunmow, 27)
Beth Storry (Reading, 32)
Sarah Thomas (Merthyr Tydfil, 31)
Georgie Twigg (Lincoln, 21)
Laura Unsworth (Sutton Coldfield, 24)
Kate Walsh (Stockport, 32)
Sally Walton (Solihull, 30)
Nicola White (Oldham, 24)
Two reserve athletes are:
Natalie Seymour (Maidstone, 25)
Abi Walker (Glasgow, 30)
The addition of the 16 women’s hockey players brings the total number of athletes officially selected to Team GB for London 2012 to 101 across eight sport disciplines: archery, athletics – marathon, boxing, canoe slalom, hockey, sailing, swimming and synchronised swimming.
The athletes were formally nominated to the BOA for selection to Team GB by Great Britain Hockey, the National Governing Body for hockey in the UK.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“On this historic day for the British Olympic Movement, as the Olympic Flame arrives in the UK, I am delighted to welcome the women’s hockey squad as officially selected members of Team GB for London 2012.
“The progress made by the women’s hockey team over the last six years has been outstanding. They have consistently medalled at major international Championships over the last two years and are now ranked fourth in the world. With victory in the recent test event on the Olympic Park, the team demonstrated their capability to beat the best sides in the world and compete for the Olympic medal podium this summer.
“Over 600,000 people will see first-hand the speed, skill and excitement involved in the game of hockey as they attend matches at the fantastic Riverbank Arena during the Games. With the passionate and vocal support of the home crowd behind them, the Team GB women’s hockey team will have a great opportunity to write themselves into the history books and create a lasting legacy for the sport across the UK with their inspirational performances.”
Team GB Women’s Hockey Head Coach Danny Kerry said:
"Words cannot describe how difficult it has been to make the final decision in selecting this squad. Since we centralised our training programme in late 2009, our process has been continuous, making it our most thorough and exhaustive ever.
"We have chosen what we feel is the best combination of players for the challenges of the Olympic Games. Each and every one of the 28 athletes in the training group has committed so much and as a result we have the most powerful squad spirit I have ever known.
"I want to offer my congratulations to those that have been selected who I know will do our squad proud in London. I also want to offer my most heartfelt commiserations to those that have not been selected – they have given everything."
Great Britain Hockey Performance Director David Faulkner said:
“Olympic selection is always something that every athlete will remember. The moment confirmation comes that they will become an Olympian lives with them forever.
“What is impressive about this women’s hockey group is the collective manner in which they’ve approached the programme over the last four years. This group is incredibly special – I know that those not selected will give 100% support to those that have been.”
Team GB Women’s Hockey Captain Kate Walsh said:
“I feel very honoured and privileged to have been selected to represent our squad at the London Olympic Games. We have progressed so far as a group over the last few years and I am looking forward to giving it everything we've got in front of jubilant home crowd.”
Alex Danson said:
“It’s a huge, unbelievable honour! As a child and as an athlete you dream of going to an Olympic Games but to have the opportunity to play at the Olympic Games in your own country is simply incredible.
“I’m so excited to be able to share the experience with my family and friends. They have been my support network throughout and to have them around me will be a tremendous help.
“Our programme has provided us with the best preparation we’ve ever had. Being able to train full time at Bisham Abbey has helped us engender the fantastic team ethos and squad mentality that makes it so great to be part of this team.”
Helen Richardson said:
"I feel extremely privileged to have been selected to represent Team GB for a third Olympic Games. There’s no better feeling than playing for Great Britain, and having the chance to compete in front of a home crowd will be truly inspiring.
“The squad selected represents a wider training group and we’ll do absolutely everything in our power to make them proud."
Laura Bartlett said:
“I am absolutely delighted to be selected to represent my country and I cannot wait to play in front of the passionate British crowds. To be named in the squad for London is the ultimate prize for the past four years of hard work.
“I am particularly looking forward to playing in front of a packed house at the Riverbank Arena and hopefully we can build on our successes at recent tournaments, including the Visa International Invitational hockey test event.”
Stay up to date with Great Britain's progress and find out how you can see the team live and in person here.