02:31PM, Monday 22 August 2016
Maidenhead’s Kate Richardson-Walsh flew the flag for Team GB's record-breaking Olympians after being chosen as her country’s flag-bearer for the closing ceremony at Rio 2016.
Richardson-Walsh, a four-time Olympian, captained the unbeaten women’s hockey side to their first ever gold medal, following Friday night’s shoot-out win over reigning champions the Netherlands.
The 36-year-old first made her Olympics debut at Sydney 2000 before going on to compete at Beijing in 2008 and London four years later where the team won a bronze medal.
Richardson-Walsh was nominated for the honour by a British Olympic Association panel headed by Chef de Mission Mark England.
Last night’s closing ceremony concluded a record-breaking games for Team GB, who became the first nation in history to win more medals immediately after hosting the Olympic Games, having won 67 medals in Rio.
Kate Richardson-Walsh said: “I feel incredibly proud to have been chosen. There are so many athletes here who have achieved great things in Rio and I’m incredibly surprised and excited to carry the flag this evening.
“I’m very aware of the magnitude of this honour having been part of this magnificent team who have just excelled in so many ways and in so many sports. There are so many fantastic multi-Olympians and multi-medallists here I feel it’s such a huge honour for me and for hockey as a sport.
“I’ve had such a fantastic Games. If you could write a movie script with a fairy tale ending then this would be it. However much you talk about working hard and believing that your dreams will come true, when it actually happens you still have to pinch yourself. It’s just been an amazing few weeks here.
“What the whole team has done here has been infectious. The professionalism, attention to detail and real British spirit that every athlete has brought to their performances has culminated in this record-breaking achievement. It’s just the most special and supportive place to be. I will certainly miss it and hope it is an environment that will continue for many Olympic Games to come.”
Chef de Mission Mark England added: “To captain the team to a first women’s hockey gold is an incredible achievement and befits a remarkable Games for Team GB here at Rio 2016. There is no one more fitting than Kate to lead Team GB into the Closing Ceremony in what has been the greatest British sporting triumph of all time.
“For 16 years Kate has been on this journey with Team GB and has embodied the values and spirit of our Olympians throughout her career both as a captain and an athlete. The success of her and her team gripped the nation on Friday and no doubt inspired many to try to follow in her footsteps."