'Surreal' to win Commonwealth gold says Hampstead & Westminster's Hunt

England women hockey gold 2022 Commonwealth Games

England's women celebrate winning hockey gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham - Credit: PA

Hampstead & Westminster's Holly Hunt admitted it felt 'surreal' to win Commonwealth Games gold with the England women's hockey squad in Birmingham.

Hunt broke the deadlock on 22 minutes, with a fine touch and finish, and saw Tess Howard double their advantage soon after with a deft deflection.

And after Maddie Hinch denied Stephanie Kershaw in the third quarter, Anna Toman hit a post from a penalty corner.

England, who also included Hampstead's Grace Balsdon and Lily Owsley, held firm until the final 20 seconds, when Ambrosia Malone halved the deficit from another corner, but it proved only a consolation for the Hockeyroos.

And after helping England make history, Hunt said: "This is my old university pitch so to be back out here playing in a Commonwealth final and getting a gold medal is surreal.

"I can't believe what's happened, it's amazing.

"I didn't know what to do. All I was thinking is 'stop this ball and hit it as hard as I can'. Thankfully it went in and I just jumped on the spot.

Holly Hunt England 2022 Commonwealth Games

Holly Hunt (left) celebrates scoring England's first goal in the women's gold medal match at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham - Credit: PA

Most Read

"There are girls in our squad who have been around for years and not even been in a final, let alone win a gold medal, so I almost feel I've cheated the system a bit. I'm so grateful to be part of this squad."

Owsley, who won Olympic gold with Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Games and bronze with Balsdon in Tokyo, said it felt extra special to come out on top on home soil in front of a raucous crowd.

"Every medal is special, the home ones are always more special," she added.

"This is some people's first final. We've not had one as GB or England for six years.

"We've not won a gold medal at home since the Euros in 2015 and the fact we get to share this with people who got us here makes it all worth it, especially after Tokyo when we couldn't celebrate (Olympic bronze) with our family and friends.

"The belief we've shown as a team is amazing. I never for a second in that game thought we weren't going to win it.

"We had to give them respect but we had to come out fighting. Against a team that good you have to fight fire with fire. It was a dominant performance."

Hampstead clubmates Will Calnan and Matt Guise-Brown went head-to-head as England faced South Africa for the men's bronze medal on Monday.

And Guise-Brown opened the scoring early in the second quarter with a brilliant drag flick from a penalty corner, only for Rhys Smith to level moments later.

Liam Ansell cancelled out a second South African lead before Sam Ward put England 3-2 up, but it was all square again at half-time.

Phil Roper netted the only goal of the third session with a stunning strike, then scrambled home his eighth of the tournament to make it 5-3 in the final quarter before captain Zach Wallace's late penalty secured a third successive Commonwealth bronze for England's men.

Sarah Robertson's Scotland finished sixth after losing 3-1 to Canada and Wales finished sixth in the men's competition following a 2-1 defeat against New Zealand.

The Welsh squad included seven Hampstead & Westminster players in the shape of Toby Reynolds-Cotterill, Dewi Roblin, Rupert Shipperley, Steve Kelly, Jacob Draper, Dan Kyriakides and Hywel Jones.