Honours ‘really special’ for Rio GB hockey star Kate Richardson-Walsh and wife

Published: Friday 17th February 2017 by The News Editor

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Hockey’s Olympic golden couple said receiving their honours at Buckingham Palace was the stuff that “dreams are made of”.

Kate Richardson-Walsh, 36, who captained Great Britain’s women to a first Olympic hockey gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympics, collected an OBE.

She said it was “really special” to be sharing the day with her wife and team-mate Helen Richardson-Walsh, 35, who picked up an MBE.

Kate said: “When I was at school and thinking of what I might be one day, this was nowhere near my radar.

“I wanted to be a PE teacher and I would have been quite happy with that but this is like being in a movie. It is quite bizarre. It is like what dreams are made of.

“I think it does show that, with hard work and if you really go for it, these things can happen to you.

“It was also so special to have this opportunity and see my wife have this recognition after having stood with her on the podium in Rio.”

Kate has now retired from the international game after 375 caps for her country and captaining the side since 2003.

The couple married in a civil ceremony in 2013.

Kate said they felt very lucky to be a high-profile same-sex couple with incredibly supportive families and team-mates.

She said: “I know there are people who have been shunned and locked out of their homes. We want to say there is a place for you where you can feel comfortable in your own skin, whatever that is.

“We know that we are creating history. Being a same-sex couple is something different and it is good that people are talking about it because same-sex marriage and LGBT issues are still a little bit taboo – so the more we can normalise it and talk about it the better.”

She led Great Britain to a nerve-shredding triumph over Holland in the Olympic final in Rio, with the team winning a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Speaking after they received their awards from the Prince of Wales, Helen said: “It is another nice photograph for the mantelpiece.”

Schoolgirl Ellie Robinson, who made a splash by winning gold at her first Paralympics, said picking up her MBE was “amazing” but “surreal”.

The 15-year-old beat her swimming hero, Ellie Simmonds, in winning gold in the S6 50 metres butterfly at the Rio Games.

She said: “I had to try hard not to be so nervous (today). It was amazing, quite surreal, but after the past year there has been a lot of things which have had to sink and I think this will have to be another one.

“It has been a whirlwind, going from qualifying, being selected, being in with a chance of a medal and then winning.

“The whole year has gone so quickly and it has been so unexpected.”

She is currently focusing on her GCSEs and then wants to compete at the World Championships in Mexico.

The Northampton teenager and BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year was inspired to take the sport seriously after watching Simmonds in action at the London 2012 Paralympics.

Both swimmers have achondroplasia (dwarfism).

Published: Friday 17th February 2017 by The News Editor

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