At what point did you think Great Britain’s women had secured their first ever Olympic gold almost exactly four years ago?
Before the final even started? When Lily Owsley opened the scoring or Nicola White drew them level? Or did you struggle to believe it even after Hollie Pearne-Webb stroked home the shootout winner?
For Georgie Twigg and White, the realisation that they were about to become ‘hockey’s history makers’ dawned upon them the moment the whistle went at the end of extra time, signalling the game was going to a shootout.
They both recalled that incredible day in the latest episode of #InsideTheCircle: The Podcast with guest host Emily Defroand, giving a fascinating insight into their mindsets heading into the biggest game of their lives.
Twigg recalled: “I think Holland didn’t like playing us. They will always have confidence – they are the world’s best team at the moment and had historically won two gold medals prior to Rio.
“So I don’t think there was any doubts from them going in as they knew they were a good team but I’m sure they were thinking ‘we can get tripped up by them’.
“At points we were almost hanging on, they did have large spells of possession. But as soon as the final whistle went at the end of normal play I remember Kate going past saying ‘yes, we’ve got this!”
“You looked across at the Dutch players and they were genuinely devastated that they hadn’t won in normal time. The coach had her head in her hands. At that point, I knew we were going to win.
“It sounds so easy to say but genuinely the difference in body language between the two teams when that final whistle went was quite unbelievable. Certainly at that point our historical wins against them on penalties [both had been part of the England team that won European gold against the Dutch on a shootout the year before] was paying dividends definitely come that psychological battle.”
Four years of preparation had gone into that two week tournament in Brazil, with a squad of 31 players all giving their all to achieve the ultimate prize.
As White recollected during the podcast, they had planned for nearly every eventuality and when the game went to a shootout they knew exactly what they had to do in order to maximise their chances of winning.
She also knew that the fact they hadn’t won in normal time would be a bitter pill for the Dutch to swallow and that it would give them the perfect chance to take the gold.
“They just know that we have a never-say-die attitude and we fight and fight and fight and don’t give up,” the two-time Olympic medallist said.
“We respected them because they were great players but so were we. We had a culture and an ethos that we won’t give up, we will keep fighting and I think they knew that.
“The fact that they knew we’d brought it back, to them it was like a loss. A draw is a loss to them. It just summed it up in the way they reacted.
“Even in our fitness sessions, Ben Rosenblatt [the team’s S&C coach] would tell us ‘chest up, don’t bend over, keep walking, run it off, run in at half-time’. After the final whistle went, that’s exactly what we did. We all jogged in, wec ame together and it was all positive and it just creates that momentum going into the shuffles.
“If you look at them, they were all down and negative and then we were on it. For those penalty takers it creates so much confidence - you’re saying we’re right behind you, we’ve got this.
“All those things we’ve worked on over so many years, it all comes through at the right time because you’ve trained it.”
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