Dry Doddington hockey ace Shona McCallin’s Olympic dream came true on Friday night when she and her team-mates struck historic gold for Team GB in Rio.
The whole nation were on the edge of their seats, glued to the TV, as the gold medal final between Great Britain and Holland went down to dramatic, nerve-jangling penalties.
In the shoot-out, Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb converted as goalkeeper Maddie Hinch added to the heroics, shutting out the Dutch to secure a 2-0 victory and Great Britain’s first Olympic Games ladies’ hockey gold medal.
Playing in her first Olympics, 24-year-old Shona said that if people thought it was nerve-wracking at home, they could imagine what it had been like for the team.
But despite the inevitable nerves, Shona said there was an aura of confidence that pervaded Team GB throughout the tournament.
She said: “I didn’t know what to expect in my first Olympics. I just pretended it was a normal tournament, and played it down in my mind, as did a lot of the team I think.”
Team GB booked their place in the final having won all seven of their previous Rio 2016 matches, topping Group B by beating Australia (2-1), India (3-0), Argentina (3-2), Japan (2-0) and the USA (2-1).
They then beat Spain in the quarter-finals last Monday (3-1) and New Zealand in the semis last Wednesday (3-0).
In the final, midfielder Shona’s team came from 3-2 down to level 3-3 with their highly-rated opponents – who have won gold at the previous two Games – taking the match to an excruciatingly exciting but ultimately successful penalty shoot-out finale for Great Britain.
Shona said that her mentality was that she was playing with team-mates she was used to, facing teams that they were used to playing against.
She said: “There were a few nerves before the Olympic final, but we just went in with the same mentality.
“We were confident we would win if it went to penalties.
“I know the Dutch players inside out after the last few years.”
Shona and her team-mates flew back to Heathrow Airport on Tuesday where they were treated as the true Olympic heroines they are.
Shona said: “It’s slowly sinking in. We were in our own little bubble out in Rio and didn’t realise the excitement back home.
“Back at Heathrow, we were welcomed by hundreds of journalists, and people dressed in hockey gear. It’s been non-stop ever since.”
Along with a plethora of other Team GB medallists, Shona and her team were whisked off to the BBC TV studios in London for Tuesday evening’s One Show.
Shona will be back home in Dry Doddington this weekend to see family and friends. “It will be fantastic,” she said.