Helen Richardson-Walsh was watched by 9.7 million pairs of eyes as she slotted a penalty to earn Great Britain’s first women’s hockey Olympic gold so she knows a thing or two about pressure.
The sport took centre stage in living rooms across the nation that day and now the Team GB heroine hopes to help young athletes cope with similar situations after being selected as an Athlete Role Model for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Richardson-Walsh will travel to Buenos Aires to act as a mentor for competitors, offering workshops to help develop skills, offer career and healthy living advice and reinforce the Olympic values.
Spectators were drawn into the world of women’s hockey during the Rio Olympic Games, but for Richardson-Walsh this was a tale which began almost two decades earlier.
The midfielder’s Olympic debut came at Sydney 2000 and she won her first medal in London twelve years later, before achieving her ultimate dream of claiming gold and now she will inspire the next generation to follow suit.
“It took me 17 years of playing hockey at the very top level to finally reach the goal I'd been striving for - Olympic Gold,” she said.
“Achieving your goals, ambitions and dreams doesn’t come easy, it requires a lot of hard work and a desire to never give up regardless of what is thrown at you.
“However, it is those challenges, along with the passion and energy I gave to my sport that makes me the person I am today.
“I would dearly love the opportunity to share my experiences and learnings with the younger generation, those pursuing new historic goals.
“Not only to help them to achieve them, but to also help them to thrive within a pressurised situation, to enable them to get the best out of themselves as athletes but also as people.”
It is not just youth Olympians who will benefit from Richardson-Walsh’s time, as Athlete Role Models will participate in Q&A sessions with fans in person as well as on the Olympic Channel and social media.
Along with the other 24 athletes who have been chosen for the role so far, the British hockey star will also engage with the Argentinean public, participating in activities in the four parks across the capital.