Former England hockey international and three-time Olympian Simon Mason believes Stockport’s Kate Walsh should be part of a medal-winning London 2012 campaign this summer.
Mason knows all about what it takes to conquer the Olympic stage having appeared at the Games in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens before retiring in 2005.
The 38-year-old is now well placed to comment on the state of the women’s squad in his role as president of the England Hockey Board – and he certainly likes what he sees.
And with the likes of Walsh leading the way Mason believes the British squad have got the perfect blend of youth and experience required to conquer the world’s best.
“The success of the women’s team is absolutely fantastic at the minute,” said Mason. “To be ranked fourth in the world is great and I really think they stand a really good chance of getting on the podium.
“With the likes of the more experienced players like Kate Walsh, Helen Richardson, Alex Danson and Crista Cullen blending with the youngsters like Lauren Thomas it’s great.
“To be on the podium has always been the goal for them and I think they are definitely capable of achieving it.
“To get to the medal matches they are definitely going to have to produce some special performances because there are some great teams in women’s hockey at the moment.
“The strength of world hockey now compared to when I used to play is big. Back then there were seven or eight teams who were far and away the best teams.
“But now there is a top 20 where anyone can beat anyone so it will be hard. Although I am confident from the way they have been playing that they can be right up there.”
The contemporary results are certainly compelling – earlier this year Walsh and co claimed their best-ever global international result with silver at the Champions Trophy in Rosario.
And that gong, coming just under six months before the start of the Games in London, has left Mason convinced the British girls are hitting their peak at the perfect possible time.
“The women’s team are certainly in form at the moment which is fantastic news for them and for the London 2012 Olympics,” he added.
“Getting on the podium is not something they are hoping for, it’s something they are preparing for.”
Simon Mason was speaking at the London North leg of the ‘nearest & dearest’ roadshow in partnership with P&G – supporting family and friends of all Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes in the lead up to London 2012. Visit www.pgproudsponsorofmums.co.uk for more information.