Kate Richardson-Walsh and Helen Richardson-Walsh, players on Great Britain’s women’s field hockey team, are making history as the first same-sex married couple to compete in the Olympic Games being held this year in Rio. While they’ve competed together in three past Olympic Games, this is the first since they married three years ago.
Kate and Helen have played hockey together since they were in their teens but didn’t become a couple until 2008 following Kate’s decision to call off her engagement to Brett Garrard, former captain of Great Britain men’s team.
The couple says their teammates view their relationship as “normal” but realize that not everyone feels that way. However, they also say they’ve “definitely seen a change” in peoples’ attitudes toward their relationship.
Following their bronze medals at the London Games in 2012, Helen, age 34, wound up with two ruptured discs in her back within 11 months that required two back surgeries. There was a very real concern that this could be career-ending. And team captain Kate, age 36, had to put her feeling of helplessness over Helen’s condition aside to concentrate on playing the game without her.
Fortunately, Helen recovered well and is now back on the field and playing “the best hockey of her life,” according to her wife. People at the National Sports Centre in Bisham, Great Britain’s training facility really believe that under Kate and Helen’s leadership, this year’s team can make the medal platform.
Many suspect that Rio will be the couple’s last global play. They are immigrating to Holland where they have each signed a two-year deal with Bloemendaal, the country’s leading club. But they’re waiting until the Rio Games are over before making that decision.
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