Golden moment for Britain's golden hockey couple

Britain stun Dutch for first women's hockey gold
Britain stun Dutch for first women's hockey gold

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Kate Richardson-Walsh hailed wife Helen for helping seal Britain's maiden women's hockey gold as the first married gay couple to compete at an Olympics crowned their personal journey.

Britain downed two-time champions the Netherlands 2-0 in a shoot-out after the final had been tied 3-3 in normal time.

Helen, 34, scored a penalty stroke in the shoot-out before Hollie Webb sealed the historic victory.

"To win an Olympic medal is special," said Kate.

"To win an Olympic medal with your wife standing next to you, taking the penalty stroke in the pressure moments, is so special and we will cherish this for the rest of our lives."

"I was so confident. I honestly felt that the more the crowd booed, the more Helen was going to score. I know how that inspires her."

Kate and Helen, 34, married in 2013 and now that their international careers are over, they will move to the Netherlands to take up relatively lucrative club contracts.

Helen was playing at her fourth Olympics and was part of the bronze medal squad from London four years ago.

"Seventeen years of many ups and downs, well most of them downs probably," she reflected.

"Started very low, eighth in Sydney (2000 Olympic) and from that moment, myself and Kate just wanted to win a gold medal and become Olympic champion and it's not been easy.

"Until the London (2012 Olympic Games) cycle, it was really a dream."

The coach of the Dutch team, Alyson Annan, was only woman trainer at the hockey tournament.

She insisted her side had been the better of the two.

"I think we played a fantastic game. We dominated the whole game and we played as we should have and as we wanted to," said the Australian.

"Tactically we were strong; technically we were strong. Physically and mentally, we were the better team and that makes this much more disappointing."

- Dutch dream shattered -

It was the Dutch team's first loss at an Olympics since 2004 -- after a run of 21 wins -- and shattered their bid to become the first team to win three successive gold medals.

Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch played the starring role for the British team, pulling off four saves in the shoot-out.

They were in front in the opening period when Lily Owsley scored from close range after Sophie Bray had dribbled past three defenders.

Kitty van Male levelled in the first minute of the second period, firing the ball into the top corner of the goal.

Maartje Paumen, bidding for her third gold, put her side in front with a penalty corner.

But the lead lasted only a minute when Crista Cullen shot past an off-balance Joyce Sombroek in the Dutch goal.

The faster, quick-breaking Dutch restored their lead for a second time through van Male after a well-worked penalty corner had caught the British defence cold.

But with eight minutes left, Nicola White saved Britain with a close-range effort after a goal-mouth scramble.

In the shoot-out, both sides missed their first two attempts but Britain grabbed the lead when Bray was fouled as she took her turn.

Helen Richardson-Walsh converted the ensuing penalty stroke.

Margot van Geffen then hit the post which paved the way for Webb to smash home the gold medal winner.