Rio 2016, meeting Usain Bolt and what I cannot do without – Maddie Hinch column

Maddie Hinch<!–

Maddie Hinch’s Olympic experience got off to the best possible start as she met Usain Bolt at Heathrow Airport as she prepared to fly to Rio. In her latest column for BBC Sport, the Great Britain women’s hockey goalkeeper talks about her hopes and fears, the risks of social media and what she can’t do without when she’s away from home.

‘I 100% believe we can win a medal’

It’s hard to believe but, as I write this, it’s finally becoming real. My hope is we express ourselves and deliver what we are capable of, which I 100% believe is enough to win a medal.

Sport is brutal, some teams will hit form or get lucky, but for us, as long as we perform, that’s our goal. If each player does their best and is relaxed, that’s the target. Of course, that is easier said than done but we’re ready and we know it’s in there.

My biggest fear is having regrets. I need to look back knowing we did everything we could. I’m going to have a smile on my face and enjoy it as much as I can. I want to treat it as another hockey tournament and I don’t want to be something that I’m not.

What happens as we settle in to Rio?

Maddie Hinch's Olympic kit selfie<!–

Being a hockey goalkeeper means having to pack plenty of kit

Our first day’s training will be relatively light, and we’ve got a practice game booked in soon after. We’ll also have to work out how we manage our logistics and I’m sure the coaches will also want us to get the excitement out of our system and get any selfies done.

I don’t know how it all works because it’s a first Games for me and I’m as excited as anyone.

‘Every day we’d pretend to be from a different sport’

For London 2012, I was on Team GB’s ambition programme, so me and Susannah Townsend weren’t part of the squad but were kept close to the group and were walking around the Olympic Park in full kit, which was amazing.

We weren’t competing but loads of people kept coming up to us asking for photos, and every day we’d pretend to be from a different sport. One day we were archery, the next we were gymnastics and we kept making stuff up when people spoke to us in Westfield. It was so funny!

When we walked into the village there was so much going on, so many famous people and it was so cool. I knew pretty quickly why the coach didn’t pick me in 2012 – at 23 I wasn’t ready to handle all of that. As a reserve goalkeeper you have to keep your head down and just be ready. So he was right, well done Danny Kerry. Now this time I’m there for real.

Why we’re missing the opening ceremony

Next Friday is the opening ceremony but, as a team, we’ve decided not to go because we’re competing the following day.

As soon as the schedule came out, it was never going to happen. It’s my first Games so I was gutted but we listened to the girls who’ve been before and they told us the effect it can have on you, standing up for four hours when you’re playing the next day.

We’ve made the right call.

I think about our captain Kate Richardson-Walsh – it’s her fourth Games and in my opinion there’s every chance she could be asked to carry the flag for GB – but I know she’d put the team first at all times, that’s why she is who she is.

The Commonwealth Games ceremony was exhausting enough and that’s half the length of time. We’ll have it on in our flats though.

‘It’s important to get the flatshare mix right’

We’re due to be in flats of seven. Apparently there’s a maid’s room with no windows so I’ll probably get put in there – that’s what normally happens to goalkeepers!

I know the coaches have thought a lot about it because it’s important to get the mix right, and Team GB also spend a lot of time on the decoration and so on.

I’ll be taking some home comforts with cards and plaques to make it feel like home.

There’s 18 of us staying in the village and I wanted to mention our reserve goalkeeper, Kirsty Mackay, who will be out in Rio with us but staying outside the village. It’s such a tough position but if anyone can handle it, it’s her.

‘Copacabana and Christ the Redeemer top of the list’

I’d love to see the city. Our schedule is full on but I think there’s a friends and family day when I’d love to get out of the village because I love travelling.

Obviously the classic Copacabana and Christ the Redeemer are top of the list – they look unbelievable. I’d love to get into the heart of Rio and I believe the city at night is amazing.

If I wasn’t going to play for a team in the Netherlands after the Games, I’d probably have stayed out there a bit longer.

At the end of the day, we’re there to play, though, and nothing will get in the way of that.

‘Meeting Bolt was just ridiculous’

Maddie Hinch, Usain Bolt, Crista Cullen, Nicola White and Giselle Ansley<!–

Fancy meeting you here! Maddie was able to tick off the top name from her Olympic selfie list before she even left Heathrow

Just before we left for Rio, I got the first and by far the biggest name crossed off my Olympic selfie list.

We bumped into Usain Bolt at Heathrow, which was just surreal. We couldn’t believe it when we spotted him. I can’t tell you how excited I was. I mean, it’s Usain Bolt!

The best way to put it is my friend spotted him in the village in 2012 and took his photo, which was enough to wind me up – and she didn’t even get close to him! So meeting him for real was just ridiculous.

I absolutely love him and, as you can tell, he is one person I have always wanted to meet. He was so chilled and such a cool guy. What a start to the trip! I never normally see anyone famous – apart from my team-mates Kate Richardson-Walsh and Alex Danson.

In terms of other selfies during the Games, I’m looking for anyone from the men’s rugby sevens, and Jess Ennis-Hill too!

‘I love social media but there’s more risk than reward’

I can’t do without my phone, unfortunately. There are lots of things to consider around Rio and, as a group, we’ve had a discussion about social media and what our policy should be.

I love social media but I also know it can be a distraction and sometimes I’m guilty of that.

It’s OK when it’s going well, but who knows how you’ll react when it’s a negative experience and you’re being criticised? That’s what scares me and I personally don’t think I’ll take that risk.

I genuinely believe I can stay away from my Twitter mentions, trust me. In the past, teams have stayed away from social media completely during competitions, partly to send a message about their focus.

Julianne Margulies, Chris Noth and Christine Baranski in a scene from The Good Wife TV series<!–

Maddie Hinch is “gutted” that TV drama The Good Wife is ending

At the same time, we know where we’re at as a sport, and social media is a huge tool. If we want the sport to grow, we have to put up with any negativity, and then we’d say ‘bring on the haters’.

For me, with social media there’s more risk than reward. The biggest reward is to be great on the pitch and win, then people will follow us. Play well, let your hockey do the talking, it’s as simple as that.

I also can’t do without my laptop/tablet because then I can’t watch any TV series.

The Good Wife is great but it’s about to end so I’m gutted about that. I’m a bit behind so don’t anyone tell me what happens between Alicia and Jason, and whether Peter’s going to jail. I need to watch something new, so tweet me @MaddieHinch with suggestions, please.

I’ve also been watching Love Island. Even Alex Danson is hooked, and she told me she’s going to go on the show next year so I want to share that with the world. Let’s spread that rumour.

I sound like a right tech geek with the first two must-haves, so now I’m going to say tea for my last one. With those three I’ll be sorted – cup of tea, The Good Wife and my phone, so anyone can get in touch with me.

Craving a gold medal and chocolate

I know a lot of the girls take presents for themselves for the end of the tournament with stuff they’ve been craving all year.

I’ve been off chocolate since the new year so I’ll definitely have some.

So if I can get a gold medal, some chocolate and some salted caramel ice cream, I’ll be a happy girl.

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