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BRITISH hockey hero Maddie Hinch hailed Great Britain’s gold medal triumph at the Rio Olympics as a learning experience today as she prepared to hopefully do it all over again.
Hinch remembers six months of “madness” after she saved all four penalties during a shootout for gold against Holland in 2016.
A new campaign begins tomorrow as the British women’s squad launch their Olympic title defence against Germany in Tokyo.
Goalkeeper Hinch is among seven of the Rio squad involved this time, but it will also have a new look following international retirements of players like Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh, Crista Cullen and Georgia Twigg.
“There was definitely a big difference in attention on us individually and as a sport, which is great, because we would rather have people talking than not talking,” Hinch said.
“For the first six months or so, it was just madness back home.
“We would find ourselves on television shows and doing really random things, but it was so great for a sport that is essentially fighting against many big sports [for attention].”
Britain will face Germany and Holland among their five group stage opponents, along with Ireland, India and South Africa.
The other qualifying pool, meanwhile, features Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, China and Japan.
Hinch, who has made more than 100 international appearances, added: “It’s great to finally be here, it is great that it’s happening. It’s also strange being back, and it feels like time has flown by.
“The number one thing is to focus on the first game. You can’t get carried away by what anyone else is doing.
“I think that was the biggest thing we learned from Rio. We really did have this ‘one game at a time mentality,’ so the final just felt like game number eight instead of a final.
“It’s very easy at this point to start getting the jitters and thinking ‘I need to do a bit more of this or a bit more of this.’
“We’ve prepared five years for this one, so we are ready. We are trying to write our own story here, and we will see what that story will be.”
Britain’s men begin against South Africa tomorrow, with Belgium, Holland, Germany and Canada also in their pool.
The top four teams in each group make the quarter-finals in both competitions.
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