Olympic Games captains win HWC player of the year awards

[img_assist|nid=7063|title=Fourth win:|desc=Barry Middleton has won yet another UK player of the year award – Photo: hockeyimages.co.uk|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=229]LONDON, January 22 – Barry Middleton and Kate Walshwere named named the UK players of the year for  following the annual poll conducted amongst British members of the Hockey Writers’ Club

Kate Walsh suffered a horrendous injury in the closing minutes of GB’s Olympic game against Japan when she suffered a broken jaw but returned to captain her team in their important game against China six days later.

She went on to lead her teamto the Olympic Bronze medal to conclude herinternational season. Shortly after the Olympics, she was back as assistant coach playing for her club side, Reading.

Kate who began her international career in May 1999 against Russia in Dublin and has now amassed 292 combined Great Britain and England international caps (184 England, 108 Great Britain) including the Beijing Olympics in2008 and London 2012. She has won the HWC’s UK player of the year twice previously in 2003 and 2007.

Cub colleague and last year’s winner Alex Danson said: “Kate has been an incredible ambassador for our sport and been fantastic all year so is thoroughly deserving of her accolade.”

The much-travelled Barry Middleton who has been another extraordinaryambassador for hockey won  the UK Award for the fourth time (previously winning in 2006,2007 & 2010).

Starting his hockey in Doncaster, he then moved to Premier League Cannock, where his hard graft, inspirational leadership and high class was established. This lead to a move to the Netherlands and then on to Germany playing for An der Alster, one of their leading clubs.

Olympic year saw him back in the UK playing for East Grinstead before going back to Dutch Club HGC who did so much to cement his international reputation.

Barry, who started his England career in 2003 against Belgium, has so far played 270 internationals (England 165 and Great Britain 105) scoring 79 goals. He has no intention at present of retiring from the international scene before Rio – where he hopes to add to his Athens, Beijing and London Olympic appearances.

Barry was present to receive the traditional Rose Bowl and cheque Tuesday’s presentational lunch at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, in Knightsbridge, London, from World Hockey President Leandro Negre, who flew in from Barcelona for the occasion.

Kate was unable to be there, she is away on player business with the BOA, and her award was received by England Hockey’s Jennie Byass on her behalf.

Ashley Jackson(East Grinstead) and Alex Danson (Reading) were runners-up with Glenn Kirkham (East Grinstead) and Crista Cullen (Leicester) in third place.

Plaques and cheques were also presented to Emily Defroand (Birmingham University) and Luke Taylor (East Grinstead) as winners of the Higgins Group UK Youth Hockey Awards. Charlotte Daly (Reading) and Conor Caplan (OldLoughtonians) won the Higgins Junior awards.