Maddie Hinch: GB hockey gold medallist on fame, freebies & future dreams

Maddie Hinch

Great Britain's women's hockey team made history in Rio by winning their first Olympic gold, beating the Netherlands on penalties in the final.

One of the heroes was goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, who saved all four penalties in the shootout.

In her latest BBC Sport column, 'Mad Dog' discusses how it feels to become a national hero, to be tweeted by Dermot O'Leary and to get a free curry...

'You're trending on Twitter'

Winning gold is something I have dreamed of, but I don't know if I ever thought it was truly possible.

I knew we were good enough to win gold but sport is sport and it doesn't always go your way. I just wanted us to perform as a group and show what we are about. If a medal came our way, then great, Thankfully it did.

Since landing back in Britain, everything has started to hit home. We've been in a bubble for three weeks; we had no idea what was going on at home.

After winning gold, the first thing my brother texted me was, 'Maddie, you're trending on Twitter', not 'Well done on the gold'.

My social media pages were going mad. I had to sign out quickly. It was too much and it was stressing me out. A few nights ago, Dermot O'Leary, the TV presenter, messaged me. I was thinking, 'What is going on?'

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GB win hockey gold

'The start of something special'

BBC television's viewing figures for the Olympic final were something like nine million, which is incredible. I am glad I didn't know that before the game. It would have made it even more daunting.

Coming back home and seeing the number of people in the airport, little kids with hockey sticks and team kits... that was the moment when it hit home. They seemed to be in awe of us and wanted to be us.

But the biggest shock has been finding out that people know what I look like. If they recognise me and I am the one with the helmet on my head, it is a good sign for the sport.

This is the start of something quite special for hockey. Barely anyone knew what the game was or were talking about it about it before we won. That is our number one goal achieved, just getting our sport out there. The medal is a bonus.

I learned to play by going to a hockey club, picking up a hockey stick and deciding that was for me. Now, however many years later, I am an Olympic champion. It can happen to anyone.

I will be down at the club this week for the first time. I can't wait to see the buzz. That is where, more than ever, I will realise we have really done it.

Get inspired and play hockey
Hinch and GB women's hockey team hope they've inspired a nation with their Rio gold

'Someone jumped on me - it was a blur'

I was a little bit nervous going into the final against the Dutch. I knew I would be busy and would have a role to play; I just prayed it would go well.

I made an early save, which was key. Then there was the penalty miss by Maartje Paumen. I have not seen that girl miss in years, so I thought that was a sign. I was just loving it and couldn't wait to make another save.

Things continued to go our way. It was like that throughout the tournament. There were key moments against key teams. It was like it was written for us.

We beat the Netherlands on penalties last summer to win European gold, so I remember thinking I would much rather be in our camp as soon as it went to the shootout. They had to be nervous and you could see it. They couldn't look at me; their heads were down.

I loved it. I wasn't nervous in the slightest and everything went my way. The ball kept hitting me, whether it was my head or my foot. I have never kept a clean sheet in a shootout, so that was a personal achievement.

I don't remember what happened when we won. I think I turned to my family; I was in a state of shock. Someone jumped on me. It was all a bit of a blur.

I can't wait to watch the game back. I heard some radio footage the other day and that gave me goosebumps. More than anything, we wanted to put on a show, an advert for women's sport and hockey in general.

Hinch (centre, dressed in black) pays a visit to Basingstoke Hockey Club
Hinch (centre, dressed in black) and her gold medal pay a visit to Basingstoke Hockey Club

Free curries and first-class upgrades

After the game, our management team organised a party at a rooftop bar that our friends and family could come to. They had been out for the two weeks but we had barely seen them. It was so good to spend some time with them.

We were up there till 2am and a few of us cracked on into town. I lost an entire night's sleep that night - I was just too excited.

The second night we had a party with other Olympians at Team GB's Rio headquarters, British House. It was legendary. It seems wherever we go we leave a mark. Hockey girls certainly know how to party but there are some tired bodies at the moment.

On the way back to Britain, it was surreal to be on a plane full of Olympians - and I made the most of it. Everyone was mingling. I was sat there chatting to the Brownlee brothers; Adam Peaty was there; Max Whitlock was there.

I share a house with Lily Owsley in Maidenhead. We got in and went to our local curry house. We took our medals to show them and they fed us for free.

Then, when some of us were on a train, we couldn't get a seat. As we were walking up and down the carriages, a lot of people were tweeting that there were three Olympic medallists who had nowhere to sit. Then a train manager came out and got us into first-class.

I am going to the Netherlands soon to play for SCHC. It will be slightly awkward - and I am a bit scared they won't let me over the border. My medal will have to come with me. If I get any stick, I will have to pull it out.

I am excited to get over there. It is a good opportunity for me to improve because it is the biggest league in the world and allows me to play club hockey full-time. But, come November, I will be ready to have a rest.

I also need to make sure I do that in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. I have only been GB's number one since 2013. It has gone very well but I want to go on and do so much more.

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Tunes, tears & triumph - GB celebrate hockey gold

Post-Olympic blues

Kate Richardson-Walsh, our captain and most-capped player, has retired. She has achieved so much in hockey, she is respected by so many and can, without doubt, lead a team at any level. I hope to see her in the GB coaching set-up.

She has been a legend in our sport and it is so sad to think I will never play alongside her in a GB shirt again. We will face off against each other in the Dutch league, which will be fun.

We couldn't have been prouder when she was asked to be GB flag bearer at the closing ceremony in Rio. Good luck to whoever fills her shoes. It will be tough to do.

We have a team Whatsapp group and everyone has been posting 'good morning' messages at 4am because we are all still jet lagged.

Within seconds of the first message, Susannah Townsend was saying she missed everyone. We had only been apart for four minutes. That is classic Susannah. We all tell her she is needy but we wouldn't change her for the world.

It may be a very exciting time but it is also sad. As a group, we will never be together like that again. As nice as it is to get away from everyone for a little bit, there are some Olympic blues already.

We were warned that this would happen when all the media calms down. I will be back to the real world and I will be thinking, 'Where are my team-mates?'

I remember our coach telling us that the biggest challenge after winning is winning. We need to not only keep the legacy going, but now, more than ever, we need to keep picking up medals.

We have a home World Cup in 2018. That is a fantastic opportunity to carry on and show what we are about.

Maddie Hinch with her Olympic gold medal at Heathrow Airport
Maddie Hinch with her Olympic gold medal at Heathrow Airport

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