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18 Aug 2016

Five hockey alumnae guaranteed Olympic medals

Loughborough University alumnae Giselle Ansley, Maddie Hinch, Hannah MacLeod, Laura Unsworth and Nicola White are guaranteed an Olympic medal after reaching the women’s hockey final on Wednesday night.

Team GB women’s hockey team have enjoyed a phenomenal Olympics so far, winning all five of their group games plus their quarter and semi-final matches. Taking on New Zealand for a place in the final, Team GB went in front in the second quarter and from then on controlled the game.

Having never made an Olympic final before, the side made absolutely certain scoring two penalty flicks in the final quarter to secure a 3-0 victory and set up a mouth-watering gold medal match against reigning champions The Netherlands.

That game will take place on Friday evening at 21:00 BST.

Loughborough University graduates Liam Heath and John Schofield put in an impressive semi-final run to reach the K2 Canoe Sprint final, which takes place at 13.47 BST on Thursday.

Having won bronze at London 2012, the duo have continued to get better and better, especially this year where they have won medals at every World Cup race they’ve contested. After fifth in the preliminary round, the alumni produced a terrific performance to win their semi-final. Flying out of the traps, Heath and Schofield held their form to win in 31.89 into a headwind, to secure one of the centre lanes for tomorrow’s final.

Liam Heath said: “We had a really good, solid run-out and we are very happy with what we did. We got out very quickly and the race unfolded well from there.

“It is great to reach the final. I haven’t really thought about my birthday today if I am completely honest because I just wanted to get these races done and dusted today and move on from that.

“It has been a really long wait for us. Typically, our event is at the end of the regatta so we are used to waiting it out but it has been absolutely fantastic to watch Team GB performing. It is such an honour to be part of Team GB and watching all the success builds your enthusiasm to get out there and do the same.”

Jon Schofield added: “We had a hard heat but didn’t fully stretch-out in the knowledge that we might have to go again in the semi-final. It was a solid semi-final but we are still not fully stretched out yet so we are excited for tomorrow.

“We have been training ourselves for these hot conditions and training to compete in two races in quick succession so I am proud we were able to do that nicely today. A medal from London 2012 means nothing on the start line tomorrow. It is all about the performance.

“We are grateful to be in the final and we are going to give it a good shot. You assume everyone has more to bring tomorrow so we are going to give even more too.”

On the track, Adam Gemili ran a brilliant race in his 200m semi-final to clock 20.08, his third fastest time ever to qualify for the final. With the top two guaranteed a spot in the final, Gemili finished third behind Bolt and 100m bronze medallist Andre De Grasse, but his time was enough to make it through as a fastest loser.

“It was a tough watch waiting for that last heat but I’m happy to have made the final. I thought I ran a good bend, I came off it level but then I started tightening up badly so those guys got into their running and I didn’t.

“But I’m through and like I said I can rest up and recover and hopefully I can get myself in the mix because there were some big names that went out in that third semi-final, so I’m ok, I’m good.

“It’s always open as long as you run your own race and that’s something I didn’t do there. I really tightened up – I’m in a lot better shape than 20.08 – I was really disappointed seeing that. But that’s a good thing I suppose that I’m not satisfied with that and I will go and push on. I’ll probably not get the best lane but I’ll make it work.”

Another Loughborough based athlete, Danny Talbot, was desperately unlucky not to advance, as he ran the best race of his career to date running 20.25 to finish third in semi-final one.

“It’s kind of mixed emotions – I was very happy to get a personal best but I was really hoping to get into the final today. I came close and I know what I need to do next year to get into the final. You’ve got to be able to run under twenty seconds and you’ve got to be able to put back-to-back races together. That’s what I’m going to work towards for next year and hopefully I’ll be able to do it

“It’s difficult because people always talk about medal counts and making finals. But I just love the and I’m always proud to put on a Great Britain vest and as much as I want to do well and be top of the podium at the end of the day you’ve just got to accept that you are just not good enough at the moment. I’ll work hard to rectify that and hopefully next year I’ll be in a stronger position.”

In the women’s 800m heats Lynsey Sharp looked cool, calm and collected as she controlled heat one to win in 2.00.83 and book her semi-final spot. Sharp, who uses Loughborough University as her training base won silver at Glasgow 2014 and will be dreaming of an Olympic medal in Rio.

“It was good out there – I was just trying to stay out of trouble and get clear runs in. You can’t do anything unless you make the final so you just have to stay out of trouble, but it was fine once I got out there. It’s nice to get out there but it’s also nerve-wracking!”

Mark Dry made his Olympic debut in the men’s hammer where he finished ninth in Pool A with a best throw of 71.03m. Qualifying for the final was a big ask, especially when you see the likes of Polish world champion Pawel Fajdek, unbeaten in 29 competitions, also missed out.

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Pete Matthews
PR Officer (Sport)
Loughborough University