OLYMPIC GOLD medalist Nicola White has a huge decision looming – whether to commit to a further four years up to Tokyo 2020 or retire from international hockey.
“I trained so hard to achieve my dream of winning gold, which was been unbelievable. Can it get any better than that?,” explained the former Saddleworth Hockey Club player.
Nicola added other members of the successful side are retiring from international hockey and she must also decided whether to bow out.
Nicola, who will be 29 in January, said: “I have a decision to make by the end of the year. I still love hockey, but four years is a long time to commit.
“Whatever decision I make, I will be happy with whether it is continuing on the pathway to another Olympics or pursuing another career.”
Nicola, who has won 178 caps for Great Britain and England, added that playing international hockey for a decade has also taken its toll physically on her body.
She has not played a game since the Olympic final in August and said: “When you train every day, your body gets used to it, but when I stopped it hurt a lot and was craving exercise.
“After two months without playing, my body is now used to not training and is enjoying the rest.”
Nicola, who will soon resume playing club hockey for Holcombe in the premier division of the Investec Women’s League, added that this is her first lengthy break for eight years as immediately after London 2012 she returned to Loughborough University to complete her sports science degree.
Though Nicola is having a break, it is still a hectic time with unprecedented demands for personal appearances.
She has done 21 in the last month and has a further 45 booked in before Christmas with them concentrated in the Oldham area because that is where her roots are.
“It has not been too dissimilar to after London 2012 when there were also a similar number of requests, and I am struggling to fit them all in,” she admitted.
“It has been great to see how appreciative people have been that I have visited them with my gold medal.
“People remember London, but not for the hockey when we won a bronze. But everywhere I have been, they watched the final so Rio made more impact than London in terms of the hockey.”
Nicola added that the recent victory parades for Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Manchester and London were memorable.
She continued: “There was a parade in London four years ago when the number of spectators were ridiculously huge.
“The numbers were slightly less this time, but the atmosphere was just as good. And it was nice to also have a parade in Manchester where my family and friends were also able to attend.”
The London parade was followed by a reception at Buckingham Palace where Nicola met the Queen as she also did after London 2012.
Nicola also spoke to the Duke of Edinburgh, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.
“Kate is a big hockey fan who I have met a number of times while Prince Harry was good fun having a laugh and joke with us,” she said.
Nicola is also to have an honour bestowed on her in November when she is made a freeman of the borough of Oldham in recognition of her sporting exploits.