Saddleworth’s Nicola White helps GB hockey team reach first ever Olympic final

“I AM dreaming. It’s unbelievable,” declared Nicola White after Great Britain beat New Zealand 3-0 to reach the final of the Olympic Games hockey tournament.

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Nicola White in action against New Zealand

“This is what we have trained for every day for,” explained a jubilant White who will be returning from Rio with either a silver or gold medal.

The 28-year-old, who began her playing days at Saddleworth Hockey Club, also helped create a piece of history after Great Britain became the first women’s team ever to reach an Olympic final.

White, whose Great Britain team has won all seven matches in Rio, now plays world number one team Holland in Friday’s final, starting 9pm British time.

She said: “I was excited four years ago when we won bronze in London, but this is a completely different level to be playing for gold.

“It was hard against New Zealand and had to ride it out as we had some difficult patches and put in a big shift defensively.

“They are so good counter attacking, quick and skilful. We had to bide our time and we got breaks and took them.”

And looking forward to Friday, White says spirits in the camp could not be better.

She continued: “One more game and one more win and everyone is buzzing and the vibe is keep going. We have got to do it and take our chance.

“I am still in shock. This is the dream to get to an Olympic final and you could not ask for anything more. And what a milestone to be the first Great Britain team to get to a final.

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DELIGHTED: Nicola White

“What an exciting team we have. Our mindset has been really good because we came into the tournament not in the best of form.

“We have just focused on one game at a time and not got ahead of ourselves and that is the best thing. We have really put the work in and now we are one game away from winning the gold medal.”

Great Britain won with two goals from Alex Danson and one from Helen Richardson-Walsh.

Danny Kerry’s side got its noses in front after 23 minutes when a penalty corner was the source of the opening goal. Crista Cullen’s shot was saved by the goalkeeper but Danson was quickest to react, stabbing the ball home from close range.

Three minutes into the final quarter Great Britain grabbed the all-important second goal. Some lovely link up play between Danson and Helen Richardson-Walsh freed the latter who was through on goal when she was taken out and a penalty stroke awarded that Richardson-Walsh converted, also for her fourth goal of the tournament.

Great Britain added another four minutes later, again from the penalty spot. Lily Owsley carved open the New Zealand defence and was brought down, the umpire pointed to the spot again.

This time Danson stepped up and made no mistake, matching her total from the 2012 Olympics with her fifth goal of the Games.

 

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