After yesterday's interview with men's captain Ben Hawes, today it's the turn of women's skipper Kate Walsh to talk exclusively to Londonist from the Olympic hockey squad's base in Macau. Kate has amassed multiple club and international medals across a distinguished career which has seen her win three domestic Player of the Year honours as well as being shortlisted for the World Player of the Year Award in 2003. Born in Manchester, she has been living in Surbiton in the run up to the games and plays in defence for Slough. After Sydney 2000 she now has a second chance to shine on hockey's major stage.
Congratulations on qualifying for your second Olympic hockey tournament. How are you settling in over in Macau and will you be attending the opening ceremony?
Settling in fine in Macau and am getting used to the heat and humidity. We will be going to the opening ceremony because we don't play until two days after.
England's women are currently the highest ranked of the home nations at 9th in the world. Has Britain's recent 4-2 victory over Argentina, rated second in the world, given the squad the confidence to overturn such rankings?
We can beat anyone on our day, but warm-up games don't mean anything - it's the games in the tournament which will count.
How has the bitter disappointment of failing to qualify for Athens 2004 shaped your approach to now captaining the squad at these games?
I feel like I'm more experienced as captain now having had the role for four years and feel like I know how to lead the squad better. I think my link role between the management and the players is key and that's what I focus on.
Will you be using the red "sunglass" contact lenses that some of your team-mates are favouring?
I tried them in 2006 before the Commonwealth Games but didn't find them as beneficial as others have.
You've achieved much both personally and as a team member in hockey. What are your proudest personal and collective successes so far?
One of my proudest moments so far is actually one of my worst. It was winning the silver medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, but I also felt that we should have won the gold. In terms of collective success, it would have to be playing as part of the England team who finished 5th at the 2002 World Cup.
In the 1970s England's women used to play an annual fixture at the old Wembley Stadium in front of more than 50,000 spectators. Would you relish that atmosphere and do you think it could be recreated at the new Wembley?
I went to watch one of them - although it was in the 80s! The atmosphere was amazing with a lot of high pitched screaming! I'd love to play in front of a crowd as large as that - I go and watch the football and think it would be great to have that many people chanting your name. The grass might be a problem in recreating the atmosphere at Wembley!
Picture of Kate in action against Argentina via chelmsfordblue's Flickr stream.
How do you fit in your hockey with your job as a marketing executive?
With great difficulty! I had to go full-time from April so that I could fit in 2-3 training sessions a day. It's very difficult to combine the two.
In common with a number of other leading British sportswomen you studied at Brunel University. What was your specialisation within your Sports Science degree and how did that period prepare you for your hockey career?
Sociology of sport was my specialisation. My dissertation was on sportswomen in the media. It gave me an insight into fitting in hockey with the rest of my life, although having started playing hockey at 11, I think it was hockey which helped me more at university in terms of meeting new people.
What are your most vivid memories of the Sydney 2000 games?
Walking out into the stadium during the opening ceremony as we were on the front row of the Great Britain team and warming up for the first game against Australia in front of a packed crowd.
Which of your five goals for Britain is your favourite?
I guess the first goal is the most special, but as it was probably eight or nine years ago, I can't remember it!
Hockey throws up its own unique sporting injuries and you suffered two in 2006 - a deflected ball in the throat and a stick strike across the kneecap. How hard was it to recover from those?
Both times I had to miss games within a tournament which always makes it more difficult, but having great players around me and a first class medical team makes it a lot easier.
Many sporting celebrities past and present attend the Olympics. Which one would you ideally bump into?
Roger Federer! He's an absolute legend and one of the sporting greats of our time.
You're quoted as saying: "I would trade every medal and personal trophy in for a chance to win Olympic Gold." Do you still feel the same way?
Do you aim to be available for selection for London 2012?
If my body holds up I'll be there