Retired hero Helen Richardson-Walsh wants to reignite the fervent home support she enjoyed at London 2012 to get behind Team GB in Tokyo, writes Josh Graham.
The former hockey ace, who won bronze in London and gold in Rio, visited St Alban’s Catholic Primary School in Cambridge to unveil a stunning mural as part of Purplebricks’ Team GB Home Support relay.
Artist Ben Martin produced the work which was inspired by designs made by the schoolchildren during a masterclass and aims to galvanise support in the area for the athletes heading out to Japan for the delayed Games this summer.
Richardson-Walsh, 39, said: “The Purplebricks Home Support campaign is a really great campaign that is trying to get the home support that we saw for the London 2012 Olympics and bringing that for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I think the mural is amazing, I love it. The colours are inspired by the Olympic rings and it brightens up this playground and will inspire the next generation.
“The Olympics is always so nice for bringing the country together and this campaign galvanises that.
“I was lucky enough that my family could watch the London Olympics and some of them were out in Rio and Sydney as well.
“It was always really special. I’m quite an emotional person and when I know my family are in the crowd, if I start to think about them, I will probably cry because that’s how much it means.
“Tokyo is probably going to look a little bit different. I know the hockey families aren’t able to go and travel and support - which a lot of them do like to do.
“This campaign that Purplebricks is putting on encourages everybody to support athletes, particularly from their local area, and will really help the athletes, I’m sure.”
Martin, 40, spent 16 hours painting the mural, which features cartoon-style athletes popping out around the words respect, excellence, inspiration, friendship and equality to reflect the key values in sport.
He said: “A lot of the kids seemed to draw basketball players and divers and I added a few more extra athletes to compose the image.
“The mural is next to the gate where the kids enter and leave every day so not only the children but parents and visitors will be able to regularly view the art.
“I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
Year five pupil Ashley, 10, worked closely on the project and really enjoyed the teamwork throughout the process.
He said: “It was really fun helping with the mural because it had everyone’s ideas from our class which makes it stronger than any one idea.
“It felt really good to have something here and inspire people that are going past for the future.
“Hopefully our art can help Team GB and maybe they can win the Olympics.”
Teacher Tessa McLeish, 44, added: “The children are really excited about the Purplebricks Home Support campaign; it has certainly brought the Olympics to their attention.
“And they are really looking forward to it now - the whole school will be cheering on Team GB.”
Purplebricks is working with communities, athletes, and local artists to create commemorative murals for Team GB, encouraging the nation to show home support and get behind the athletes at the Tokyo Olympics. Visit @PurplebricksUK or https://www.purplebricks.co.uk/team-gb