Olympic win was ‘phenomenal’ says St Albans’ Hannah Macleod
- Credit: Archant
St Albans’ gold medal hockey hero Hannah Macleod has described winning in Rio as “phenomenal”.
The St Albans Hockey Club player-coach was part of the victorious GB squad that defeated the Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out last month.
And speaking at a children’s training event at Oaklands College, she says the success is already showing signs of boosting the sport’s popularity.
She said: “It’s a wierd one as you dream of winning a gold medal, or at least I have since I was a kid, and you just hope it isn’t a disappointment.
“And it was phenomenal. I’ve never experienced emotion like it when the final whistle went, I don’t know how to explain it and it hasn’t sunk in.
“You certainly don’t go round saying you’re an Olympic champion and it still sounds strange saying it.
“But we haven’t stopped since; our feet haven’t touched the ground.
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“We’re everywhere. We’re just trying to get hockey out there for as long as possible.
“At the moment it’s just volunteering time. Like here today, we’ve got 110 kids, we were supposed to only have 60, and lots of mums and dads.
“This is the reception we’ve had all over the country. We’ve been getting out to Hockeyfest, which is an initiative set-up prior to the Olympics after learning lessons from London 2012 to help capitalise on the success our sport.
“So that’s great timing. But we’re all over the country taking about the Olympic experience and just giving back to all the volunteers that have helped grow our sport.
“It really has been that spectacular.
“We probably won’t know the true extent for another couple of years and if we get another medal-winning team in 12 years time it would be amazing to hear they were inspired by 2016.
“But in the short term we’ve had so many people joining the sport from other sports like football as they’ve thought ‘what a great sport that is’.
“It’s just breaking down the preconceptions of the sport. It’s no longer jolly hockey-sticks, the game has evolved.
“So whether it has inspired people to be active or just play team sports, we’ve done our jobs.”
The tournament say Great Britain win all eight of the games and Macleod believes that is down to the coaching structure put in place by GB Hockey and manager Danny Kerry.
She said: “Everybody knows their job inside out and all we expect is they do what they do day in, day out. Nobody needs to be a superstar and win games single-handedly and be a hero.
“If you go into the game and do your job, it makes life easier.”
The final was a tense, topsy-turvy affair which eventually ended in a 3-3 draw, meaning the destination of the gold would be decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Macleod says there was still a calmness about the squad who knew there was still a process to go through, although once Hollie Webb scored the winning goal, there was a huge release of emotion.
Following the Games, skipper Kate Richardson-Walsh was among a couple of names announcing their international retirement but the St Albans coach has not decided if she will follow suit yet.
“No idea,” she said. “I always gave myself this period of time, ideally up to Christmas, as I haven’t stopped for a very long time.
“It’s been nice to get back to St Albans. In the short term, it’s about giving back to my club who’ve supported me over the last two and a bit years and getting St Albans ladies first team up and running. We’ve seen so many talented players join the club which makes the season so exciting.
“And then I’m hoping I’ll decide my future once I’ve spoken to Danny Kerry; he’s the main man.”