Why Sir Matt chose this moment...
Have you heard the one about a hockey match pushing back the BBC 10 o clock news?
Sound unlikely? But this happened on August 19th 2016 when the Great Britain women’s hockey team defeated defending champions Netherlands to win Gold at the Rio Olympics in a nail-biting penalty shootout.
The Gold Medal was Great Britain’s first in the history of the women’s team and came 28 years after the men’s team took gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul and the first in history for the women’s team. The Gold Medal was also achieved against extraordinarily good opponents!
The Netherlands were ranked number one in the world, had won 21 games on the spin and had won successive gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. They had won their last seven games against Great Britain in the Olympics.
A pulsating game where Great Britain begun as underdogs, saw Great Britain take the lead, before the Netherlands hit back to lead 2-1. Great Britain then equalised, only for the Netherlands to re-take the lead with eight minutes to go. However, in a late twist, Great Britain struck back with minutes to go, to level the game at 3-3, and take the Olympic Final to penalties.
The penalty shoot-out was as dramatic as the match that had preceded it. Successful penalties from Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb were intertwined with penalty saves from goalkeeper Maddie Hinch resulting in a 2-0 penalty shoot-out victory.
Hollie Webb’s decisive penalty coupled with the sheer release of joy from the team and managerial staff was a moment none watching will ever forget!
This victory captured the hearts and minds of the British population. Hockey was propelled onto the front and back pages of the newspapers. New role-models and heroes were created and Great British women hockey players became household names, with hockey becoming the talk of the town.
This was a team who showed resilience, heart, ability, courage and togetherness. Furthermore, a team the public could relate to and be proud of. And, this was a team that embodied the true meaning of togetherness, all skills that resonate far beyond the world of sport.