Belper’s Hollie Pearne-Webb set for Olympic defence after Team GB call up

Belper hockey hero Hollie Pearne-Webb has conceded that Team GB don't have the swagger of reigning Olympic champions as they brace for a tough title defence in Tokyo.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 7:01 am
Hollie Pearne-Webb celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning penalty in the Rio 2016 Olympic final against the Netherlands. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

She made the comments after being officially selected for Team GB’s 16-woman squad for the Tokyo Olympics.

Pearne-Webb scored the winning penalty in the 2016 Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro as Team GB claimed their first ever Olympic gold medal at women’s field hockey.

"We lost a number of big personalities and big characters after Rio," she said.

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"This new-look squad probably doesn't hold too much swagger because a lot of the girls haven't been there and haven't experienced it.

"For those who have, it's been our job to educate those girls on what it takes to be in those positions and deal with the pressure.

"We've now got that added pressure as defending champions, but it's a privilege to have that pressure.

"It's a relatively young squad, if you compare it to Rio, where the squad had developed over ten years. This is a new squad and it does feel very different.

"Our aim is to win a gold medal and be on that podium. We have the same vision as the Rio squad."

Pearne-Webb, who keeps her Rio gold medal in the sock draw under her bed, never doubted she wanted to take another shot at the biggest prize in her sport after 2016."I knew after Rio I wanted to be part of that journey again," said Pearne-Webb."I'm also quite good at putting things in boxes, the medal was put away and it was all about Tokyo. I found that quite easy and it was a motivator to go and do it again.

"It's not been the same for everyone, but that was my experience of it.

"I know how good it was and I want all of my new team-mates and squad to feel the same.

"There have been significant challenges in recent years but this squad thrives on them," said the defender.

"We're probably now in a better place than we were a year ago, giving us an extra year with Mark Hager (coach).

"It has been tough, but we're very much looking forward to what the next eight weeks hold."

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