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Stockport girl Kate Walsh aiming for Olympic hockey glory

PUBLISHED: 01:21 04 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:27 20 February 2013

Stockport girl Kate Walsh aiming for Olympic hockey glory

Stockport girl Kate Walsh aiming for Olympic hockey glory

Meet a Cheshire hockey player who hopes for an Olympic medal to add to her collection<br/>WORDS BY MARTIN PILKINGTON

David Beckham won 115 caps, GB hockey captain Kate Walsh has so many shes unsure of the total: I dont know the exact number, but its nearing 300, England and GB combined, she says.

Kates formative years were spent in Cheshire, living in Heaton Moor and attending Priestnall High School in Stockport. While there she had a major decision to make: I used to swim quite a lot at Stockport Metro, and when I was about 13 I had to choose which to do. I decided to go with hockey. Given the 31-year-old is preparing for her third Olympic tournament and has been GB team captain for nearly nine years it looks like the right choice.

She returns to visit her father who still lives in the area, and likes to drop into the Orangery wine bar on Heaton Moor Road. But leisure-time is scarce: We have five sessions a week of on-pitch training, two hours at a time; then we have three weight sessions, and weve our rehab to fit in along with running sessions, then obviously we have club training and club matches...

Nutrition is equally controlled: Were quite strict. We used to go big on carbohydrates, now its more protein based so we feel lighter before games and still full of energy.

Sport dominates her spare time: Im a Man United fan, I love watching them on TV, but Ill watch any sport the Six Nations Rugby at the moment and the swimming trials. But one thing breaks that monopoly: I love to shop!

Captaincy brings extra duties: On the pitch leadership is one of the easiest bits, you lead by example. I make sure I know our tactics and the oppositions inside out and can change our game and communicate it to the team.

Off the field I have a leadership group of myself and three other senior players. We make sure everybody is feeling confident, listen to any problems and make sure we resolve them quickly, and make sure theres good communication between team and management.

For Kate sport is about success: My highlight so far isnt the Sydney or Beijing Olympics but the silver medal we just won at the Champions Trophy in Argentina, the first world-level silver medal for GB. That was really special - history making.

Sydney was an amazing experience, just going to the Olympics, as Id only just got my first England cap the year before. But we finished eighth and that was really disappointing, wed gone in with high hopes but just didnt perform.

In Beijing we finished sixth, we drew a couple of games we should have won and that meant we didnt make the semi-finals.

She hopes the 2012 Games being in London will boost the team: We are training at the venue so we get a feel for what its like, know the pitch and the stands. Our experiences of playing at home in Manchester in the Commonwealth Games in 2002 and the European Cup in 2007 showed it really spurred us on. Thats what I think we can get in London. Going to the Olympics is great, but I want to go and be successful.

The caps total is not the only difference between Kates world and David Beckhams: We get funded by UK Sport, it supports us and is great though its not a massive amount - it covers your living costs and makes sure you can train full-time. In 2004 though we failed to qualify for Athens and my funding was cut, so I worked for Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, and for Canterbury of New Zealand the sports-clothes maker based in Stockport.

Retirement is a long way off, but whatever her next step youd not bet against her: Ive been really passionate about hockey and given it my all. Every waking moment at present is about hockey because I love it so much, thats why I can get up every morning and do it even if theres a horrible session in prospect. Whatever I do afterwards will again have to be something I have a passion for, whether it be sport, fashion or anything else.

Kates tips for success

1: Dont limit yourself: believe you can do something because that belief is so powerful.

2: There will be bumps in the road, but its how you deal with them not the bumps themselves that matters.

3: Set achievable - but high - goals, and set small goals along the way so you get that successful vibe as you progress towards the big one.

Kate Walsh is sponsored by Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager which supports womens hockey from grass-roots level through to Great Britain.



The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Cheshire Life

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