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Great Britain come from behind to claim bronze against India in thrilling 4-3 victory
History maker Laura Unsworth then takes aim at the Dutch after they called GB 'arrogant'
The Great Britain women’s hockey team delivered their third consecutive Olympic medal in the 40 degree heat of Tokyo on Friday morning, and then promptly followed up bronze with an even more scorching riposte for arch-rivals Holland.
The Dutch had gained some measure of revenge for defeat by Team GB in the 2016 Olympic final by winning their semi-final here 5-1, but then claimed that the British women were cocky and that their victory in Rio de Janeiro was “pure luck”.
"We have the feeling that those girls always have a lot of bravado, almost arrogant - they certainly don’t come near us,” said Dutch captain Eva de Goede.
Laura Unsworth created British hockey history here in winning her third individual Olympic medal, following bronze in London and then gold in Rio, and accused the Dutch of still being psychologically impacted by their dramatic penalty shoot-out defeat in Brazil.
“It’s an interesting one because they say all these comments,” said Unsworth. “I don’t know that we’re arrogant - but obviously we are in their heads. I’m not sure why they waste so much time speaking about us if they don’t think we’re that good. It does spur us on a little bit.”
Of the claim that their Olympic gold was a fluke, Unsworth said: “No. We beat them in the Euros the year before. If that’s what they want to think, that’s what they can think. They have been very good this cycle, they are probably the No.1 side. We will keep coming back stronger and stronger.”
Grace Balsdon, who scored Team GB’s winner in a thrilling 4-3 win against India for bronze, said that the British team were “a tight knit group” and that nothing the Dutch said could possibly knock them off course for the medal match. They did, however, almost self-combust when, having taken an apparently comfortable 2-0 lead thanks to the intricate dribbling skills of Elena Rayer and the shooting power of Sarah Robertson, they conceded three times in the space of five minutes. It appeared that a subconscious complacency had crept in and some home truths were delivered at half time by Team GB’s coach Mark Hager.
The Aussie has not seen his wife, two daughters and grandchildren for 15 months due to the Covid-19 restrictions in New Zealand, where they live, but is now planning to spend two weeks of quarantine in Australia before returning to Auckland. He said that his half-time words were “probably not repeatable”, with Unsworth confirming that they had been bluntly told that an Olympic medal was on the line, that the players should have no regrets and that they must stick to the gameplan and forget the flurry of blows they had just suffered.
It had the desired reaction, with the team regaining focus to score in either quarter of the second half. The crucial equaliser was scored by captain Hollie Pearne-Webb and then, after Udita had been sin-binned for India, Team GB forced four penalty corners from which Balsdon eventually struck the winner.
Maddie Hinch, the Team GB goalkeeper, who was the penalty shoot-out hero in Rio, again stepped forward with a series of crucial saves. Amid ecstatic celebrations, Hinch said that, for different reasons, winning bronze had been just as meaningful as her previous gold medal.
“The match summed up our last five years,” she said. “It would have been very easy to crumble. I've had some pretty low moments since Rio. I put an awful lot of pressure on myself, but the one thing I said to myself coming here was that I would enjoy it whatever happens. I have done that.”
Hinch, who is 32, said that it was too soon to decide whether she would continue to Paris but that her decision would be framed simply by her level of enjoyment. “I have found my love for the game again,” she said. “If I still feel I can contribute to this team and help them win medals, I will be there, but I have got to start looking after myself more and make sure I am in a good place.”
Unsworth appeared more certain about her desire to continue until at least the Commonwealth Games next year and potentially a fourth Olympic cycle to Paris in 2024 when she would be 36. “If someone told me when I first started playing hockey when I was 11 that I’d win three Olympic gold medals, I’d have just looked at them and said, ‘you what?!’” she said.
“You get kind of addicted to winning medals and you think, ‘I want to go again.” You forget all about all the lows and all you remember are the highs.” And there is also the prospect of renewing their increasingly bitter rivalry again with the Dutch three years from now. “To get three medals in three successive medals is incredible - a special legacy to be part of,” said Balsdon. “The depth of our squad is fantastic and will continue this for years to come.”
As it happened
So after a tough five years GB have won bronze
They didn't defend their title but such have been the challenges of the past five years that, as Hollie Pearne-Webb said, bronze feels like a huge success .
Hollie Pearne-Webb speaks
The captain is emotional as she speaks to the BBC...
On the collective effort required to win bronze...
"I'm incredibly proud of the whole squad – the 16 people that are going to get a medal here. We have got three girls that are here as reserves that aren’t, and they deserve one. We’ve got players at home that weren’t selected. We rely on our whole squad, there’s 26 girls in the squad but there’s so many more that have been part of it over the past five years. I wish every single one of them could get a medal."
On the challenges since winning gold in Rio...
"This cycle has not been too much of a rollercoaster because there’s not been many highs. There’s a few girls here that experienced the massive high in Rio and I think after winning and achieving the ultimate dream, that in itself is the biggest challenge ... there have been so many challenges, I can’t even recall them all and that is collectively as a team and so many individuals as well."
On the tough times of the past 18 months...
"It’s been tough for everyone back home the past 18 months as well. The girls in our squad including myself haven’t seen our families in over a year. We’ve been locked down, Christmas on our own because we want to come here and want to give as good a performance as we could."
On what winning bronze means...
"Olympic bronze even a few months ago was beyond our wildest dreams and I’m so proud of the whole squad, the whole support staff, everyone that’s been involved that we’ve come away with something from here."
Hinch consoles India's Neha Goyal
India's women had never won an Olympic medal and victory this morning would have likely had a huge transformative effect in the country. As it stands they just missed out, but both today and throughout the tournament the Indians have been brilliant and you can only hope that even though they will return to India without a medal they will be lauded as heroes and role models for women across the country.
Laura Unsworth makes history
Here's a stat...
Unsworth is the first British hockey player in men's and women's hockey to win medals at three Olympics.
A Rio gold-medal winner tweets
The GB captain from the 2016 Games, Kate Richardson-Walsh is proud of her former team-mates.
Scenes of success
They may not have won gold but bronze ensured Great Britain's women claimed an Olympic medal for the third Games running.
That winning feeling
A collective effort
What a dramatic match
That could have gone either way but GB managed the second half better and just about edged it.
What a thrilling encounter.
GREAT BRITAIN WIN THE BRONZE!
They've done it - before the first half they were up against it, but a fine second-half performance saw them take the lead and following gold in Rio they now have bronze in Tokyo.
4th Q - 59 mins: Great Britain 4-3 India
Into the final seconds...
4th Q - 58 mins: Great Britain 4-3 India
Leah Wilkinson is flicks the ball high to clear the danger - it's checked for dangerous play but the decision is that it was a fine clearance and India lose their referral and don't get the penalty corner they were searching for...
4th Q - 57 mins: Great Britain 4-3 India
Navjot Kaur gets in a brilliant cross from the left but no one is in the circle to get on the end of it.
We're now officially into Squeaky Bum Time...
4th Q - 55 mins: Great Britain 4-3 India
Stats show that India have enjoyed 54 per cent possession, but with five minutes to go they need to find a goal.
McCallin and Jones work well but the move comes to nothing.
4th Q - 54 mins: Great Britain 4-3 India
India are seeing more of the ball at the moment.They're playing with more urgency and energy now - they know they've only got six minutes to get that vital goal.
There's the last break for drinks at the moment.
4th Q - 52 mins: Great Britain 4-3 India
Penalty corner for India. They've been under the cosh but have been dangerous and clinical at penalty corners - with time running out they need to make this count.
The ball find the back of the goal BUT the whistle had already blown - phew (if you're a GB fan..)
4th Q - 49 mins: Great Britain 4-3 India
GB have been impressive - they've had 21 visits to the India circle compared to eight by India into the GB danger area.
GOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Great Britain 4-3 India
It's another penalty corner for GB as Owlsey makes a nuisance of herself in the circle.
They earn another penalty corner and this time another Owsley shot results in a third penalty corner.
And it's third time lucky as Grace Balsdon's rapid, low shot evades Savita in the India goal.
4th Q - 46 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
GB have an early penalty corner after great work on the right by Owsley.
Owsley gets in a drag flick which hits an onrushing India defender in the body- that will hurt.
4th Q - 45 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
Fifteen minutes to go in the bronze medal match.
It's been such a topsy-turvy encounter that you'd be a fool to try and predict the outcome...
A reminder that...
...if it remains a draw at the end of the 60 mins it goes to a penalty shootout.
But the way this match is going you strongly suspect there will be at least another goal to come in the final quarter.
3rd Q - 45 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
India have a penalty corner - it will be that last play of the third quarter.
Can they go into the break a goal to the good?
They cannot but only because Hinch makes a good save at the near post.
3rd Q - 44 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
It's mayhem in the India circle as Jones forces Savita into another great save. Savita is keeping India in this quarter.
This is a great, entertaining match to watch.
3rd Q - 43mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
Pearne-Webb sends a dangerous, pacy ball into the circle that Petter nearly gets on the end of. THis has been a brilliant quarter for Team GB. You feel their dominance is deserving of another goal.
3rd Q - 42 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
GB seeing a lot of the ball - India are on the back foot and Petter forces Savita into a fine, last-ditch save.
3rd Q - 40 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
More pressure from GB. Good build up play from Owsley and Petter comes to nothing, however.
The GB equaliser
3rd Q - 37 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
This match is breathless at the moment. Sarah Robertson is nearly on the end of a ball from the right, but she clatters into the post and the players have a moment to catch their breath.
It's now time for a much-needed drinks break...
3rd Q - 36 mins: Great Britain 3-3 India
Great save from Maddie Hinch as India again work a penalty corner well - Kaur getting in another fierce shot on target that the GB keeper does well to keep out.
GOOOOOAAALLLL!! Great Britain 3-3 India
GB have been well on top since the break and they make that count as the captain Hollie Pearne-Webb gets in a snap shot from just beyond the penalty spot and Savita can do nothing to stop it in the India goal.
3rd Q - 34 mins: Great Britain 2-3 India
This a a good opening to the second half by Team GB - they've seen all the ball since the break and McCallin gets the ball to Petter who forces Savita into a fine save.
3rd Q - 34 mins: Great Britain 2-3 India
Toman fizzes in a great ball from the right and Petter cannot get anything on it with the goal at her mercy. Such was the speed of the cross it wasn't easy but it was a chance.
3rd Q - 32 mins: Great Britain 2-3 India
Shona McCallin does really well to win a penalty corner on the left. Can they make this count?
They nearly do, Ansley's shot is nearly deflected in.
3rd Q - 30 mins: Great Britain 2-3 India
The temperature on the pitch is now 42 degrees - OUCH! That. Is. Hot.
There will be an extra water break each quarter now because of the oppressive conditions.
Anyway, the third quarter has started. You suspect the half-time break will have suited GB more.
It's fair to say...
...that the momentum is all with India.
GB have seven members of the gold-medal winning side from Rio - they will need all their experience it they are to get back into this match and get that bronze.
Here's how India went ahead
Remember when GB were on top?
Here's Sarah Robertson's great strike that made it 2-0.
HALF TIME: Great Britain 2-3 India
That was an impressive response from India - at 2-0 down they weren't out of it but they hadn't threatened Maddie Hinch in the GB goal and it was hard to see how they could any time soon.
But three goals in fewer than 10 minutes has seen India deservedly take the lead - they look dangerous whenever they attack and this is now a huge challenge for Hollie Pearne-Webb and her team-mates.
GOOOOOAAAALLLL!! Great Britain 2-3 India
For the past five or so minutes India have been dominant and once again another attack results in a goal. It's chaotic in the England circle and the ball, somehow, trickles over the line into the GB goal.
GB refer it BUT the video officials stay the goal is good and Vandana Kataria's strike stands.
2nd Q - 12 mins: Great Britain 2-2 India
What a quick, and impressive turnaround from India. They're looking confident and swarm forward in numbers Sharmila looks to round Hinch but the GB keeper does enough to put the India forward off - that was close to a third for India.
GOOOOAAAALLLL!! Great Britain 2-2 India
GB have had 10 visits to the Indian circle, whereas India have had four to GB's. But India's last visit results in another penalty corner for the Indians and they have a good chance to draw level...
And Hinch is beaten again and India are level! That was another great, ruthless shot from Gurjit Kaur which the GB keeper couldn't keep out. Clinical.
GOOOOAALLLLL!! Great Britain 2-1 India
It's another penalty corner for India - Gurjit Kaur gets the ball and drag flicks it into the goal at pace.
India are back in this.
GOOOOOAAAALLL!! Great Britain 2-0 India
What a goal!
Sarah Robertson gets the ball from the right in the centre of the circle, she spins on to her reverse stick before firing in a low shot that Savita can do nothing about.
GB are now two goals to the good and are looking very good for the bronze (as it stands..!).
2nd Q - 9 mins: Great Britain 1-0 India
Wilkinson has a lot of space on the outside of the circle but her cross is wayward.
2nd Q - 8 mins: Great Britain 1-0 India
Pressure is building on India here as GB go in search of a second. India defend this attack well and keep Pearne-Webb and co at bay.
2nd Q - 6 mins: Great Britain 1-0 India
India have their first penalty corner of the game - they are unable to make it count, however, as they don't get a shot in on goal.
2nd Q - 4 mins: Great Britain 1-0 India
What a save from Hinch - she's had nothing to do all game but produces a fine stop as India's Lalremsiami turns and gets in a good reverse stick shot on target.
2nd Q - 3 mins: Great Britain 1-0 India
GB are well on top now - they're a goal to the good and have another penalty corner.
A shot from Owsley is nearly deflected in by Jones on the right of the goal two yards out.
GB will want to translate this dominance into more goals while they can.
GOOOOOAAAALL!! Great Britain 1-0 India
The second quarter is under way - can GB translate their current dominance (Hinch has yet to make a save) into goals?
YES they can! Unsworth was wide on the right and passes well to Rayer. Rayer then uses her pace on the byline, passes into the danger zone and all India's Grace can do is divert the cross into her own goal knowing Hannah Martin was lurking dangerously.
End of first quarter: Great Britain 0-0 India
There's been plenty of action for Savita in between the posts for India but it remains 0-0 after 15 minutes.
1st Q - 13 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
Savita is definitely the busier of the two keepers - again Jones forces the Indian stopper into another save. GB well on top at the moment.
1st Q - 11 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
Better from GB over the past few minutes - Jones, Townsend and Owsley are looking bright. Jones creates havoc in the India circle - Rayer forces Savita into one save before Jones forces the India keeper into another fine stop seconds later.
1st Q - 9 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
Townsend plays a great ball to Owsley and she earns a penalty corner - the second of the game. Can they make it count?
The answer is a big fat no - as there's a mix up on the edge of the circle and GB don't get a shot in on goal.
1st Q - 8 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
Townsend tussles her way into the circle, GB are right in front of goal but are unable to get a shot in on goal.
GB have had 63 per cent possession so far BUT it doesn't feel like that, India have been in the opposition half a fair amount of time so far.
1st Q - 7 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
Savita does well down the right for India but her cross is easily dealt with by the GB defence - India have started brightly.
1st Q - 5 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
Toman loses the ball inside her own half and India counter with five blues shirts in the final third - they cannot make it count, though, and Hinch has yet to make a save in the GB goal.
1st Q - 3 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
Penalty corner for GB - the first real chance of the match.
Ownsley drag flicks it and it's a comfortable save by Savita in the India goal.
1st Q - 2 mins: Great Britain 0-0 India
India with the first real attack, Navneet Kaur takes the ball down the right for India before losing the ball.
1st Q - 1 min: Great Britain 0-0 India
It's under way at the Oi Hockey Stadium...the battle for bronze has begun.
Once again it's hot and humid in Tokyo
The teams are out on the pitch
At the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo.
They have belted out their national anthems.
The GB women sung theirs with gusto, while the Indians also gave their national tune every they've got - in the singing stakes I'm calling it an 8/10-all draw...
'India have been building through the tournament'
That's according to Rio gold-medal winning captain Kate Richardson-Walsh on BBC comms tonight.
India's women have never won an Olympic medal - will they break their duck this morning?
Captain's team talk
Hollie Pearne-Webb wants her side to show resilience...
"We have had to show some resilience during this Olympic cycle, and now we have to get over this quickly and move on. We are a new group of players and we have a medal to play for. We have to get in the right frame of mind for the game and try and bring a medal home. It won't be easy, but we are used to being resilient, and it is our job to focus on that match and try and win a medal.”
If you were paying attention
You'd have noticed in the previous post that GB met and beat India 4-1 in the group stages. That, in theory makes Hollie Pearne-Webb's side the favourites coming into tonight's match BUT this is the India side that produced a huge shock by beating Australia 1-0 in the last eight and despite their 2-1 defeat to Argentina will be confident they can get their hands on the bronze medal this morning.
How GB got to the bronze-medal match
Pearne-Webb and Co finished third in their pool with nine points, suffering two narrow defeats to Germany and the Netherlands along the way.
Mark Hager’s side made it to the semi-finals with a dramatic 2-0 shootout victory over Spain after nothing could separate the sides in a 2-2 regular time draw.
But hopes of gold were dashed by that 5-1 defeat to the Dutch in the semi final
Great Britain 2-0 Ireland
Great Britain 0-1 Netherlands
Great Britain 4-1 India
Great Britain 4-1 South Africa
Great Britain 1-3 Germany
Great Britain 2-2 Spain (GB win 2-0 on penalties)
Great Britain 1-5 Netherlands
Moving on from the semi-final defeat
It's clear that the performance wasn't great, they never really put the Dutch under pressure in the opposition half and for all the energy and endeavour the Netherlands were always comfortable from the moment they went 1-0 up.
BUT the Dutch went into the match as overwhelming favourites, are now 45 matches unbeaten and it will be a huge shock should Argentina beat them in the gold-medal match.
In short it's best to forget about the 5-1 thrashing and move on.
Ouch! Let's talk about the defeat to the Dutch and...
...the war of words (most, if not all the verbal volleys were fired from the women in orange, to be fair) that took place afterwards.
Team GB were thrashed 5-1 on the pitch before coming under fire from the Netherlands afterwards with the Dutch players labelling their opponents "arrogant" and only Olympic champions in Rio because of "pure luck".
The victory gave the Netherlands a semblance of revenge for the penalty shootout defeat they suffered against against a Maddie Hinch-inspired GB in the final five years ago.
The Dutch are now 45 matches unbeaten and comments made by British players in the build up to the game that their rivals would still be concerned by that Rio loss seemed to touch a nerve.
Margot van Geffen, who played in Rio said...
“They may say it hurts us, but that just gave me energy, I can remember a lot of quarter-finals, semi-finals and other tournaments where we humiliated them. Take, for example, the European Championship in 2019, in which we won 8-0 (against England). That hurts too, don’t you think? You also see today: it was pure luck what they put down in Rio. It’s great that we’re sending them home like this today.”
Dutch captain Eva de Goede also hit out at Team GB...
"I think everyone had their own personal reason why we wanted to beat them so badly," she said. “We have the feeling that those girls always have a lot of bravado, almost arrogant. We really wanted to show today that they certainly don’t come near us. I’m glad we were able to play our own game and knock them all out.”
Clearly a nerve was touched - not sure it was fair to called Hollie Pearne-Webb and her players arrogant, but there you go.
Great Britain told to fight for bronze
Maddie Hinch urged Great Britain to keep believing and focus on the "massive" prize of an Olympic hockey medal after their reign as champions was emphatically ended.
Team GB women were crushed 5-1 by semi-final opponents Holland as the Dutch avenged their 2016 Olympic final defeat when goalkeeper Hinch's heroics during a penalty shoot-out ensured gold medal glory.
Five years on, though, and Britain will contest the bronze medal match against India when they return to the Oi Hockey Stadium this morning.
"We haven't become a bad team after one game, and we are still going to fight for this bronze medal, which we would be incredibly proud of if we come away with it," Hinch said.
"I don't think we should fear it. It would be massive for this group if we get a medal. We learnt from Rio that it is all about the power of belief."
Asked if bronze would mean as much as gold, given the vastly-changed nature of the Tokyo squad since Rio, Hinch added: "Yes. Given the whole cycle - Covid, change of coaches - then it would be massive for us."
Holland never looked back following two goals in just over a minute during the second quarter when Felice Albers and Marloes Keetels struck.
Albers and Maria Verschoor added further goals in the third quarter, leaving Britain reeling from conceding four times in 19 damaging minutes, before Giselle Ansley netted a consolation, but Frederique Matla notched a fifth late on.
Hinch said: "We need to look at what we got wrong, but also believe that we are still a good side and there is a reason we are fighting for a medal. We haven't done that by luck.
"We don't need to overthink this too much. They are an unbelievable team who will punish you if you get things wrong.
"It is their ability to punish mistakes. Some of the goals were world-class, and sometimes you have to say they were better than us today. That's that."
Great Britain captain Hollie Pearne-Webb feels the squad will need to show resilience as they aim to ensure they don’t leave Tokyo empty handed.
"We have had to show some resilience during this Olympic cycle, and now we have to get over this quickly and move on," she said.
"We are a new group of players and we have a medal to play for. We have to get in the right frame of mind for the game and try and bring a medal home.
"It won't be easy, but we are used to being resilient, and it is our job to focus on that match and try and win a medal.”