Guardian select Hinch as 'one to watch in Rio'

Maddie Hinch in The Guardian

Our women's goalkeeper Maddie Hinch was selected as one of The Guardian's athletes to watch during this summer's Olympic games.

Maddie was highlighted by the newspaper and featured in a superhero photoshoot alongside the likes of Tom Daley, Greg Rutherford, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jonnie Peacock.

Read the full article here, and Maddie's interview is below.

Maddie Hinch’s potential as a hockey goalkeeper was spotted during a game of rounders. She was 13 and had just returned to the UK after attending schools all over the world (her father was in the navy). “Balls were coming straight at me,” she says, “and I was diving and tumbling. At the end of the season, the PE teacher came up to me and said, ‘We’re going to get you in goal in hockey.’” Hinch had never heard of the sport, nor did she really like the idea of being stuck in goal, but being the new kid, she didn’t get much of a say in the matter.

It took a while to fall in love with the game. “At first, I couldn’t understand what was enjoyable about wearing all this smelly kit, standing still and rolling the ball back to everyone who is celebrating.” But she soon experienced the thrill of goalkeeping: “You suddenly have one of those moments when you’re basically a hero and everyone appreciates the smallest save. And who wouldn’t want to be a hero for the day?”

Hinch can’t quite believe how far she has come, not least because it hasn’t exactly been a smooth rise to the coveted goalkeeper’s shirt. She was overlooked at county level until she was 18, because of her unusual style: “I am quite agile, so I run around a lot,” she says, “whereas 10 years ago, it was very stereotypical to put the biggest person in goal who would just fill it and save the shot.” Hinch is clearly strong, with some of the biggest trapezius muscles I’ve ever seen (the ones behind the neck; she thinks that might be due to the helmet), but, at 5ft 6in, she is by no means big. “Different scares people a little bit. I could make all these dramatic saves, but I would probably let a few in that someone else would have saved all the time.”

Hinch was forced to wait on the sidelines until recently, overlooked for both the top spot and the reserve position for the London 2012 squad. She now thinks this was a blessing in disguise: “Looking back, I thought I was ready to take it on, but I was too young.”

In early 2013, the Team GB goalkeeper, Beth Storry, who had been part of the Olympic bronze-medal winning team in 2012, retired, leaving a slot open for Hinch to fight for. “It was very much a shirt to grab,” she says. Hinch got it and hasn’t let go since. Last year, England won gold at the EuroHockey championships, with Hinch hailed as the woman of the match after it came down to a penalty shootout: “It’s mad,” she says. “I only had about four or five caps to my name in 2013, and this summer I could get my 100th. I can’t quite believe how well it’s gone.”

Could this year’s team improve on their bronze medal? “Can we do one or two better? I think so. We grabbed our first gold medal in a long time last year, so we are definitely on the right track. Sport is brutal, but we will certainly be ready.”