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Olympic champion shares her inspirational tips with young Norfolk and Suffolk hockey players

Olympic gold medalist hockey player, Helen Richardson-Walsh visits Hewett Academy for a sports day involving different schools from the region.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2017

Olympic gold medalist hockey player, Helen Richardson-Walsh visits Hewett Academy for a sports day involving different schools from the region. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2017

Archant 2017

Young hockey players from schools in Norfolk and Suffolk have had inspirational coaching by one of the British Olympic team’s star players.

Helen Richardson-Walsh, who won gold with Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympics, shared her tips for sporting success with more than a hundred students at an inter-school hockey tournament held at The Hewett Academy in Norwich.

The students from The Hewett Academy, Jane Austen College, and Notre Dame High School in Norwich; Cromer Academy; Wayland Academy in Watton; and East Point Academy in Lowestoft enjoyed team pep talks from the Olympic champion to improve their skills before facing each other on the school’s astro pitches.

She told students: “We can’t all be good at everything, but we’re all good at something. You have to work out what it is that you’re good at, and follow it to the best of your ability.”

Ms Richardson-Walsh made her international debut in 1999 at the age of 17, and in 2000 became the youngest female hockey player to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.

She faced a huge challenge when she suffered a major back injury after the London 2012 Games, but fought her way back to fitness and went on to score the winning penalty in the women’s hockey final at Rio.

She said her team’s medal victory was “an amazing moment – we’d set our sights on a goal and achieved it as a team, which made it very special.”

She was visiting the schools tournament on behalf of England Hockey, the sport’s national governing body, which hopes to build on the British team’s success by encouraging more young people to play regularly and join their local clubs.

She said: “Hockey has something for everyone – people of any age, and all shapes and sizes, can enjoy playing it.

“It helps to build physical skills and tactical thinking, as well as teamwork, communication, and leadership. And it’s great fun to play with your friends.”

John Vincent, vice principal at The Hewett Academy, said: “It was a huge privilege to welcome such a distinguished guest to our school, and to see so many students from across the region making the most of our fantastic facilities.

“The students found training with Helen really inspiring, and have picked up lots of pro tips to improve their game.”

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