By Richard Bright
Sophie Bray, the hat-trick hero of England’s Commonwealth bronze, says the team has a “massive opportunity” to now go forwards and lift the women’s World Cup for the first time.
England’s highest finish in hockey’s showpiece event has been third in 2010, while they failed to make it beyond the group stages four years ago.
However, the Olympic title and bronze medals at the Europeans and Commonwealths have given Danny Kerry’s side optimism as they head into next month’s event with a younger squad at Lee Valley.
“We have a massive opportunity and we will go out there and try and grab it with both hands,” said Bray, 28.
“It would be a dream come true and unbelievable thing to win it.
“The World Cup is almost on your doorstep and the thought of it is incredible.”
Bray famously played the Rio Olympic final against the Netherlands without having washed her red GB kit throughout the whole tournament.
The story goes that after GB women beat Australia in the opening game, Bray found the washing system at the athletes’ village a tad complicated while her team-mates had lost items of kit.
England hockey forward Sophie Bray has an unconventional superstition which helped her team's winning streak ???? pic.twitter.com/U2Puc7DYsp
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) May 31, 2018
Bray didn’t want the hassle so decided to wash the kit herself, but with a double header on the cards she ran out of time.
The rest is history as team superstition dictated that she keep to the same rituals, meaning a run of six matches unwashed.
Speaking to the BBC this week, she said: “The girls were pretty happy when the tournament was over.
“I’ve learnt that whatever happens in the first game, just wash your shirt.”