Birmingham & Black Country

Sally Walton's hope Olympic hockey medal win can inspire others

A bronze medal-winning hockey player has said she hopes her team's success in London 2012 will encourage other people to take up the sport.

Sally Walton, from Solihull in the West Midlands, said she felt "immensely proud" to receive her medal and hoped it would boost hockey's popularity.

Team GB's women's hockey team won bronze in a play-off match against New Zealand on Friday, which they won 3-1.

Walton said the support from the British pubic had been "fantastic".

The Netherlands went on to win gold in the Olympic tournament against previous world champions Argentina.

Image caption Team GB beat New Zealand 3-0 to win their bronze medals

"In the athletes' village we were in what we described as a 'bubble'," said Walton, who started playing hockey at the age of seven in Hampton-in-Arden, Warwickshire.

"We were all cheering each other on in our various events, but we had no idea of the level of support we were getting from everyone else until it finished and we went on stage in Hyde Park to see everyone - and then we came home.

"I just popped to the gym yesterday and kept being stopped by people who wanted to say 'well done'. I never thought we would be recognised like that - it's all been fantastic."

Walton, who plays club hockey for Bowdon Hightown, based in south Manchester, said she had never seen so much interest in the sport.

"Hockey has never had that much exposure - especially compared to many other sports," she said.

"That's the legacy we want to see from these Games - that people see what a great sport it is and want to get involved.

"You don't even have to be young, people of all ages can get involved in this fantastic competitive sport - and it's such a good way of getting healthy."

Walton, who plays as a defender, said she was now preparing for "a couple of weeks off", after which she and her teammates would go into schools to inspire children to take up the sport.

"I was at a tournament at Virginia Beach when it was announced London was going to get the Olympics," she added.

"There were just huge celebrations and of course, we all hoped we could be part of it then. I now want other people to have the same experiences I've benefited from."

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