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A-Star Sports ambassador Helen Richardson-Walsh on building towards Rio 2016

Hi, I’m Helen Richardson-Walsh, an England & GB hockey player with 248 caps and I’ll be blogging regularly for A-Star Sports as we build towards Rio 2016, hopefully you’ll join me along the way. I recently teamed up with A-Star Sports because I love their vision of making sport enjoyable and accessible for all children. Sport has had such a positive impact on my life and I’ve benefitted a great deal from it, which is why I feel proud to be associated with A-Star Sports.

Having made my debut in 1999, the last fifteen years of playing international hockey has provided me with many different experiences I’m extremely thankful for. The best of those experiences were definitely the challenging ones, which pushed the boundaries whilst testing my resolve, yet ultimately leaving me fulfilled.

Competing in the Sydney Olympics aged just 18 years old started a quest to become Olympic champion, which is still the goal. Two years after Sydney a career threatening injury nearly put paid to that dream, but after three operations on my ankle and two years out of the game I returned a stronger, fitter and more determined athlete.

Winning medals is always the aim and highlight, I’m very proud therefore to be able to call myself an Olympic, World and European medallist. After the London Olympics, where we won the bronze medal, the squad naturally went through a re-building phase with many new members added to the team as we grow once more towards the Olympics, this time in Rio in 2016. The first year was a successful one though, winning three medals in three tournaments, including a bronze at the recent World League Finals in Argentina.

2014 is a massive year, and one I can’t wait to get stuck into. In June The Netherlands will play host to the World Cup. Considering the success of the Dutch teams, the passion for the sport and a hockey pitch being dropped into a football stadium it promises to be a huge spectacle.

If that wasn’t enough there is also the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to get excited about. Any multisport event is special and this one will be no different. There’s certainly a lot of hunger for hockey in the UK following the London Olympics and this will definitely feed that appetite. There is plenty of training time before both these events though, which will start with a training camp in San Diego, USA, in February. Matches against USA and New Zealand will provide us with good practice to develop as a squad.

Remember to look out for my next blog when I’ll update you on our trip to America and let you into the world as an international hockey player as we approach the World Cup.