The captain of Britain’s gold medal-winning women’s hockey team Kate Richardson-Walsh MBE is an LJMU Honorary Fellow and has arrived back in the UK after leading her team to victory in Rio.
The four-time Olympian picked up gold for Team GB after a dazzling penalty shoot-out victory over Holland on Friday night. She was then chosen as flag-bearer at the closing ceremony on Sunday, beaming proudly to an estimated TV audience of one billion as she carried the Union Jack into the city’s Maracanã stadium with record-breaking Team GB.
Kate won bronze at the London Games after appearances in Sydney in 2000 and Beijing in 2008. She has captained the England and Great Britain Women’s Hockey Team since 2003 and under her leadership has helped establish the strongest, fittest and most successful women’s hockey team that Britain has had.
Speaking to the media prior to the ceremony, Kate said: “I feel incredibly proud to have been chosen (as flag-bearer). There are so many athletes here who have achieved great things in Rio and I’m incredibly surprised and excited to carry the flag. I’m very aware of the magnitude of this honour having been part of this magnificent team who have just excelled in so many ways and in so many sports.”
“There are so many fantastic multi-Olympians and multi-medallists here I feel it’s such a huge honour for me and for hockey as a sport. I’ve had such a fantastic Games. If you could write a movie script with a fairy tale ending then this would be it. However much you talk about working hard and believing that your dreams will come true, when it actually happens you still have to pinch yourself. It’s just been an amazing few weeks here.
“What the whole team has done here has been infectious. The professionalism, attention to detail and real British spirit that every athlete has brought to their performances has culminated in this record-breaking achievement.
“It’s just the most special and supportive place to be. I will certainly miss it and hope it is an environment that will continue for many Olympic Games to come.”
Kate was made an Honorary Fellow of LJMU in 2014 in recognition of her outstanding contribution to sport. She grew up in Stockport with teacher parents – her mother, Barbara, now works at LJMU as Director for the School of Sport Studies, Leisure and Nutrition. Kate has made 368 appearances for her country – becoming the most capped female player in British history. Kate’s civil partner Helen is also an Olympian, and together are the first same-sex married couple to win an Olympic gold in the same final.
LJMU’s medal success didn’t end just there. LJMU graduate and Liverpool sprinter Anyika Onoura also picked up bronze in the 4 x 400m relay. The Liverpool Harrier said she was ‘blessed’ to be part of a team including Eilidh Doyle, Christine Ohuruogu and Emily Diamond on the track for the penultimate race at Rio’s Olympic Stadium and coming third place in three minutes 25.99 seconds. It was Great Britain’s first 4x400m relay medal at an Olympics since Barcelona in 1992 and saw Team GB officially surpass their London 2012 haul.
Michael Rimmer, former sports scholar at LJMU was also in Rio for the 800m track race. The Southport-born Liverpool Pembroke Sefton athlete was a silver medallist in the 2010 European Championships in Barcelona and this time around in Rio he completed in 1 minute 46.80 seconds in the 800m semi-final.
LJMU want to extend a much deserved congratulations to Kate, Anyika and Michael and the rest of Team GB for their outstanding achievements in Rio 2016.