Kate Richardson-Walsh on the Road to Rio

Kate Richardson-Walsh on the Road to Rio

Great Britain take their next step on the Road to Rio this coming Sunday as they take on Japan in the Investec Private Banking International at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre. We spoke to Olympic Bronze medallist Kate Richardson-Walsh about her memories of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Sunday's opponents, as well as looking ahead to the challenges to come.

A veteran of approaching 350 international caps, Richardson-Walsh still glows with pride when she talks about her international career. The enthusiasm and excitement of returning to the scene of that London 2012 bronze medal win still burns brightly in the Reading defender:

“I can’t wait to come back and play for Great Britain. For me, the pinnacle of my career is playing for GB and going to the Olympics, it’s the ultimate. Coming back to the Olympic Park you really get that buzz. Walking through the park to get to Lee Valley you start to feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. We all came to watch the men against Germany the other week and the hype and the noise is amazing. I can’t wait to get out there.”

Being back on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park as Great Britain for the first time since that glorious 2012 summer inevitably brings up memories for the 34-year-old, but they are perhaps not the ones you would think:

“You remember funny things, like seeing the media centre from where the bus used to pull up. That was always a little reminder of where we were and what it meant. It’s the really small details that stick out. We always walk past where we stayed in the Olympic Village which is really nice as well.” she adds “I’ll also never forget the feeling I had when we walked out for the bronze medal game. We all looked each other in the eye and I knew we were going to win. There was no way we were going to lose that medal. That sense of pride and respect amongst a group of girls who worked so hard for each other is something very special which I’m reminded of every time I come here.”

Great Britain's Women with their Olympic Bronze medals

The temptation to reminisce and reflect is a strong one, but Richardson-Walsh is typically focused on the upcoming tasks, starting with Japan this Sunday in the Investec Private Banking International as the team continue their preparations for the Olympic Qualifiers in Valencia this June.

“We always have close games with Japan. The opening game against them at the Olympics was almost a perfect one for us, apart from me breaking my jaw, of course!
We scored four and we played well but they are a good side. Defensively they are very structured. They sometimes play quite deep and it will be a good test for us as it is a team we will have to work hard to break down.” She continues “We’ve had a good block of training and we’re looking fit and sharp. It’s really a crunch time for us as we are all working hard to get selected for the big games. It’s a hard stage of our journey, but an important time and we’re all really looking forward to the coming weeks.”

Would you like to see the next step on the Road to Rio first hand? Tickets are still available for Sunday’s Investec Private Banking International and any purchased will contribute towards our club cash-back scheme. For all the details click here.