In August, 2016, at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Deodoro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Great Britain women’s hockey team made history by winning a first Olympic gold medal. Great Britain qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio by virtue of having won the Women’s EuroHockey Nations Championship, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, the previous August.
In Rio, the team progressed from Group B unbeaten in five matches, scoring twelve goals and conceding just four, before beating Spain 3-1 in the quarter-finals and New Zealand 3-0 in the semi-finals. In the final, Great Britain faced the Netherlands, gold medallists at the two previous Summer Olympics, in London in 2012 and Beijing in 2008, and the reigning world champions. Nevertheless, after goalkeeper Madeleine ‘Maddie’ Hinch saved an early penalty stroke from Dutch captain Maartje Paumen, Great Britain led at the end of the first quarter against their distinguished opponents, courtesy of a tenth-minute tap-in by forward Lily Owsley.
The Netherlands equalised six minutes later and led 2-1 after a Paumen strike in the twenty-fifth minute. A minute later, against the run of play, British defender Crista Cullen – who had been coaxed out of retirement the previous year took advantage of a kindly deflection to take the score to 2-2. The Netherlands led again after thirty-eight minutes when fearsome striker swept home from a short corner; her effort was cancelled out by Great Britain forward Nicola White in the final quarter and, with the scores level at 3-3, the match went to penalties. In the penalty shootout, goalkeeper Hinch proved to be the heroine of the hour, saving all four Dutch efforts, while Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb slotted home to give Great Britain a dramatic 2-0 win.
Watch the GB Women’s Hockey Olympic Gold Medal Win