The Perse School

Olympian Kate Richardson-Walsh’s inspiring 42 lecture

25 Jan 2017

Olympic Gold medallist Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE told the inspirational story of her journey to Olympic Gold at The Perse’s 42 Lecture.

Not only did Kate provide invaluable advice for anyone aspiring to a career in hockey or international sport, but she shared insights into the importance of perseverance and teamwork relevant for anyone seeking to do their best and achieve their goals in any walk of life.

Kate played for the GB hockey team for 17 years, but for the first 11 years of that time, attempts to win an Olympic medal did not succeed. Therefore, the importance of determination and persistence was at the heart of her lecture.  For Kate, the secret of success was having a vision of what you want to achieve that is ‘further than you can imagine’.  She gave the example of the London Olympics in 2012, when the team had the ambitious goal of winning gold, but ended up with the Bronze medal.  Although this was not what they set out to do, they had the satisfaction of knowing that they had tried their best – in Kate’s words, ‘we aimed for the moon and that time we missed, but we ended up amongst the stars’.

The road to Olympic Gold in Rio was not an easy one. The hardest moment in Kate’s career was when the team, as England, played for last place in the Hockey World Cup in 2014.  This was such a low point that she took some time out to consider whether she was able to continue, eventually making the decision to carry on in the team and as captain.  At this stage, Kate believes that the team were playing as a collection of individuals, rather than a single unit, so the only way to achieve better results was to transform the culture of their team.  The players decided themselves that they wanted to ‘be the difference’, ‘create history’ and ‘inspire the future’.  They set their own values as a team and committed to enacting these as behaviours in their everyday lives, from what they had for breakfast to what time they went to bed.  Kate emphasised that these lessons are not just relevant for hockey players, but can help us to achieve our goals in all areas of our lives.

The pupils had plenty of questions for Kate, ranging from details of the selection process for the GB team and its gruelling training schedule, to her plans for the next stage of her career. Kate even had some tips for the Perse girls as they prepare for a hockey tour of the Netherlands, based on her own experience of winning against the Dutch at Rio.  Many pupils then had the chance to see Kate’s Olympic Gold medal, a tantalising glimpse of what can be achieved through dedication, perseverance and teamwork.

You can listen to the lecture below:


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