BOHUNT School welcomed Olympic gold medallist Lily Owsley to run a hockey training session and give an inspirational talk to pupils.
Lily was part of the Great Britain hockey team which won gold in last year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
The 22 year old is currently a second-year student at the University of Birmingham, studying sport, exercise and rehabilitation.
She recalled the Olympics as an "incredible experience", when nearly 10 million people watched Team GB win gold in a penalty shootout against defending champions the Netherlands.
Lily, who was awarded the MBE along with her team-mates said: “We had no idea at the time who was watching us or how many people. Everyone in Team GB had a total social media ban in Rio – we had different phones just so we could communicate with each other.
“We didn’t know what went on in the world and it wasn’t until afterward we found out how crazy everything was. I am glad we did not know – it would have put immense pressure on all of us.”
Lily comes from a sporting family in Bristol, where her mum works for Bristol City Football Club. Her first choice was to play football as well as compete in athletics and she started playing field hockey at the age of 13, after joining the city’s Clifton College.
“I didn’t want to play hockey at all, but the school insisted,” she recalled.
“At first I was terrible, but I am also very competitive. I have to be good at something and I have to win! So I decided I had to get better, and after four weeks I was put into the C team and eventually I got good at it.
"At 14, I went to my first county trials and I admit I was not brilliant. But I decided to carry on practising, get extra coaching and got picked again the following year for the county trials, but my coach still said I was not good enough."
Lily continued: “That was a challenge. I love a challenge. I loved athletics and football, I was fit and a quick runner so I practised to get better and run faster.
“At 16, I got picked for the under-16s/under-17s, but at 18, I decided to go for athletics instead. However, after my first event, when I was on my own in a hotel room, I decided it was not for me. I didn’t want to be on my own, I wanted to be part of a team.”
Lily clearly remembers the day when she won her first cap – on June 22, 2013.
She now has 110 caps, but stresses the first was the most memorable and significant.
She competed for England in the women’s hockey tournament at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, winning a silver medal, and won a Euro hockey gold with England in August 2015 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.
In Rio, she scored four goals out of 21, with the team winning every game.
Lily added: “Talent is not everything, accept what you are not good at, use what you are good at and you will make it with perseverance.
“The team visions for the Rio Olympics were: Feel the difference, create history and win the Olympics, as well as inspire the future and get others involved in sport.
“Rio was the best experience of my life – despite some mishaps. I got stung by a bee in the semi-finals, and found out I was allergic to nuts. But despite all that I had the best time.
“The day after we won gold, our coach got us together for a talk on winning after winning. We were now the Olympic Champions.
“It is a big and a different challenge, with additional pressure, but our visions are still the same. What I love most about being a Team GB player is that feeling you get from winning.
“I am happy to get up at 6am and train for hours.
“I love running and enjoy it when I get to play - it is a dream job!
“What I dislike is losing, not seeing my friends and family often enough. But I value the time when I do see them and they come and watch whenever they can.”
Lily is now training hard for the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.