Mel Clewlow: "Focused, driven GB" going for gold

Mel Clewlow strides forwards with the ball

Undoubtedly, Great Britain’s perfect run to the Olympic final has captured the nation’s imagination. This is no small part thanks to the role played by the television coverage. The games have been spectacular and the commentary has been excellent making for a great advert for hockey. One of the voices fans tuning in to watch have been hearing is that of Canterbury’s Mel Clewlow. A double Olympian who is still the scourge of attackers up and down the country, the BBC’s “Melly from the Telly” gave us some insight into the Olympic final.   

“I’ve not seen this Great Britain side so focused and driven, ever. I’ve been commentating since 2010 and playing a lot longer and this is like nothing I’ve ever seen from them. After they won against New Zealand they had a huddle but there were no massive celebrations, just a feeling they were focused on the next game. I don’t think it’s hit them yet what they’ve achieved but this social media trend of #onemoregame might give them an idea when they finally come back to the real world!”

Clewlow watched on as Great Britain had, by their own lofty standards a below-par Hockey Champions Trophy. Her years of experience and her knowledge of the characters involved with the group told the double Olympian there was no need to panic:

“I know Danny Kerry hadn’t announced his squad publicly before the Champions Trophy but I’ve known him long enough to know that this was his group for Rio. After selection there is always a lull. Players are relieved, mentally exhausted, some are trying to avoid injury people simply aren’t at their best. GB had some players coming back from injury too so the tournament wasn’t necessarily an accurate reflection of where they were. They’ve peaked at the right time. Winning seven out of seven is incredible. Eight out of eight, I can’t even imagine!”

The perfect run Clewlow alludes to has shown that Kerry’s team are arguably the form side of the competition. The players obviously deserve credit but so too do the rest of the staff:

“It shows the work of the 31 in the wider squad but also the work of the support staff and the trust and belief the players have in the coaches, the staff and everyone associated with the group.” says Clewlow “They are a complete unit and it may have taken two cycles for them to really click but we are seeing the benefits of what the central programme, the staff and the players have been working so hard towards for so long.”

The post match debrief after the semi final win over New Zealand by the BBC saw an emotional Clewlow struggling to get her words out as the team, containing many of her friends marched on to a shot at ultimate glory. It surprised the BBC Commentator as much as anyone else:

“Normally we wrap up the commentary and I don’t say anything else. I’ll have few minutes to take it all in and see the teams go through their warm down etc. After the semi final they asked me to go and speak to camera. To begin with I was fine. The emotion sort of crept up on me and I stopped before I reached the stage where I couldn’t speak.” she adds “I played with Kate Richardson-Walsh for a long time. For someone who used to be a team mate and who is still a friend to be given the chance to win an Olympic gold medal is an emotional thing for me. I know how hard she’s worked and the sacrifices she’s made so I’m obviously so happy for her."

"I think how I felt and the emotion I showed is probably the way the majority of British hockey fans felt too. It’s important people know what it means to have this team do so well and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was a bit emotional. Who knows what I’ll do if they win gold!”

Tune in to BBC One tonight to see GB make history with a guaranteed best-ever finish in the women's competition at the Olympics. You can also follow all the action via our Twitter feed.

alex danson Final graphic