Saturday, July 20, 2024

‘This will be my last Olympic Games – I’ll appreciate every moment’

Team GB women’s hockey captain Hollie Pearne-Webb will once again wear a rainbow armband at the Olympics to show sport is ‘a home for everyone., writes Tom Harle.

The Belper-born defender underwent back surgery in February and has defied the odds to earn selection for her third Games. Pearne-Webb was part of the squad that won gold at Rio 2016 and bronze at Tokyo 2020.

Pearne-Webb proudly sported a rainbow armband in Japan three years ago to show solidarity with the LGTBQ+ community and will do so again this summer.

“I do it because I think we should have equality and everyone should be comfortable in their surroundings, in sport especially,” said Pearne-Webb.

“It’s about making sure that everybody feels comfortable and knows that we as a team are allies out there and ensuring sport is a home for everyone.”

Hollie Pearne-Webb rallies her team as GB women’s captain PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS

Pearne-Webb is no stranger to the Olympic stage but this is the first time that her family will be able to join her.

The 33-year-old’s family were unable to make the trip to Rio to watch Pearne-Webb and team secure Team GB’s first and only title in women’s hockey, with fans unable to attend Tokyo due to Covid restrictions.

Aldi’s Nearest & Dearest programme helps maximise support and minimise potential distractions for athletes so that they can focus on their performance and make the most of the unique opportunity to compete on one of the world’s largest stages.

“It’s going to be really special,” said Pearne-Webb. “I’ve got young nephews who are going to come and I’m really looking forward to having people there.”

READ MORE: Paris 2024 Olympics: Hockey schedule, match fixtures
Our full Olympic coverage of 2024 Games

Pearne-Webb’s emotions are heightened because of how close she came to missing the Olympics. She sustained a back injury in September 2023 and was undergoing intense rehab in the lead-up to the crucial Olympic Qualifier in Valencia in January, where Team GB secure the last of the 12 spots in the tournament.

Pearne-Webb went under the knife in February with the timing of back surgery leaving her in a race against time to be fit for selection.
“The surgeon’s first question was, ‘how long have we got?’” remembers Pearne-Webb. “He did an incredible job and I’m lucky to have the medical team, the surgeons and the physios supporting me. I’m feeling good now.

“I was very, very emotional when the selection came out. At points, I didn’t think I would make it back and it’s always hard when only half of our group can go.

“I know this will be my last Olympic Games – I’m not saying I’m retiring, but I won’t be around for another four years, so I’m just trying to appreciate every moment.”

Hollie Pearne-Webb leads from the front PIC: Worldsportpics / Will Palmer

The women’s squad features a wealth of Olympic experience with Pearne-Webb one of four athletes from the Rio 2016 returning for Paris.

“I think, compared to Tokyo, it’s a way more experienced group,” said Pearne-Webb. “We’ve got a lot more Olympic experience in the squad but at the same time, we’ve got a lot of new, young talent and that’s really exciting.

“We have the potential to be right there at the top but in women’s hockey, the Dutch are the top team, anyone can beat anyone on any given day.”

Aldi are proud Official Partners of Team GB & ParalympicsGB, supporting all athletes through to Paris 2024

Total Hockey

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