Here at King Edward VI Sheldon Heath Academy students in Walters House have been investigating how Great Britain’s Ladies Olympic Hockey Team have been getting ready for London 2012. Students carried out their own research into the team before taking questions to the 2012 team.
Q. How long has it taken to put the Olympic Squad together and what is the most difficult challenge that you face in getting a team together?
A. The GB Women’s Squad have been in a centralised programme for the last 4 years based at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre in Buckinghamshire. This is where England Hockey is based. The centralised programme means the team is able to train together on a daily basis. This is obviously reliant on funding and our key funding partners are Sport England, UK Sport and the National lottery. Without which it would be very difficult to compete at all.
There are 27 athletes in the programme of which 16 will be selected for the Olympics, with a goalkeeper and another outfield player named as reserves. The squad includes one Welsh and 4 Scottish athletes.
Prior to this year, athletes have been competing for their home nations in major competitions. However, this year we have been able to compete as Team GB in major competitions such as the Champions Trophy in Argentina. This competition is where the top 8 countries in the world compete.
Q. How long on average does the team train a day?
A. The team generally has one rest a day a week. A typical week outside of competition would consist of a 2 hour pitch session on a Monday with a gym session normally consisting of 1-2 hours depending on the phase of training. Tuesdays and Thursdays involve two 2 hour pitch sessions with further gym and conditioning sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays. In addition to this athletes have individual injury prevention and stretching programmes. Outside of team sessions they will attend physiotherapy, psychology meetings and individual input from a nutritionist and performance lifestyle advisors.
Q. How long have team members been playing hockey?
A. This varies in terms of experience within the squad. For some this will be their first Olympics and for some, like our Captain Kate Walsh, this will be their 3rd Olympic.
Q. What's your expectations of the Olympics, especially with it being held in Britain?
A. This team has competed recently at the Champions Trophy in Argentina where they came second after reaching the final against the host country - Argentina. This was an excellent result against the top 8 teams in the World in preparation for the Olympics. The Olympics obviously provides an opportunity for hockey to be viewed on the world stage and obviously in the UK where exposure to team sport is often limited outside of football and rugby.
Q. What are players allowed to eat/not eat?
A. Players have expert input from the team nutritionist to ensure optimum refueling and recovery between sessions, which is essential for the intensity that their training involves. This includes the use of some supplements and they will take on essential protein to enable recovery which may be in the form of a shake, bar or tablets depending on their preference.
Q. Which teams are you most looking forward to playing against? Which teams pose the greatest challenge?
A. The Olympics provides an opportunity to play against the best teams in the World. GB is currently ranked 4th in the World in both Men and Women’s Hockey. Hopefully we will be able to improve on this and we’re really looking forward to taking on any of the top three – The Netherlands, Argentina and Germany.
Q. How has the team prepared for the Olympics?
A. This squad has been preparing for the Olympics for the last 4 years through the centralised programme. Recent preparation has involved travel to San Diego to train and play matches against the USA. Since the New Year we have had 2 trips to Spain to play Spain, Belgium, USA and Argentina for a 4 Nations Tournament and the Champions Trophy.
Q. How many other people are involved in getting the team onto the pitch?
A. Current GB Women’s Hockey support team consists of a Head coach, 2 assistant coaches, a strength and conditioning coach, physiotherapist, performance analysts, psychologist, and input from nutritionist, performance lifestyle advisors. Additional strength and conditioning coaches and physiotherapists support professional leads as and when needed. There is also a fantastic group of people who do all of the administration and organisation behind the scenes for the squad. Today the team was up and on a Coach by 7:30am. This will take them from Bisham Abbey to the Riverbank Arena – venue for the Olympic Hockey for yet another days training. Another day in the four years of hard work and dedication, which will hopefully culminate in glory this August.
Here at KESH we wish all of the team the very best of luck for the upcoming games.