This summer will mark the first time a same-sex married couple will compete in the Olympics.
Team GB’s Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh are part of the 19-strong field hockey team heading to Rio this August.
The two have been teammates for almost two decades, a couple for eight years and married for the last three.
‘We were friends but we weren’t bezzie mates before that,’ says Kate, talking about how they had met when they were teenagers. They ultimately became a couple around the Beijing Olympics.
‘But we just clicked and developed a deep emotional connection. We have similar values and morals, even though we’re opposite in lots of other ways.’
‘Obviously at the start there were some people on the team who thought “oh that’s different”,’ Helen says, ‘but now nobody bats an eyelid and it’s really nice actually.’
‘I think that’s something I’ve noticed a change with,’ says Kate. ‘In the squad there’s always been a whole range of women and what they stand for and who they are in terms of sexuality.
When they got married in 2013, the entire squad were invited to the reception. Their coaches say the couple have an almost ‘telepathic’ connection on the field.
It has been a hard journey to get to this point.
A photo posted by Helen Richardson (@helenrichardson8) on Aug 22, 2015 at 3:47pm PDT
In 2014, midfielder Helen suffered a career-threatening back injury requiring two lots of surgery. This meant that she missed out on the 2014 World Cup. Kate, who had recently come out of retirement after becoming Britain’s most capped hockey player of all time, made the cut.
They won a bronze medal together at London 2012, after competing with Team GB for the last 17 years.
‘If you’ve got a boyfriend, girlfriend or are married it’s a non-issue,’ Kate said, about the team.
‘It’s not a taboo, it’s just part and parcel of who we are and it’s special. It makes me proud of my sport.’
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