By Abi Curran
Durham University student, Fiona Crackles, is an Olympic bronze medallist following Team GB Women’s Hockey’s 4-3 win over India.
In a tense match for a place on the Olympic podium, it was Grace Balsdon’s winner from a penalty corner that separated the two sides.
Team GB bounced back from a disappointing 5-1 defeat against the, now gold medallists, the Netherlands in the semi-finals showing grit, courage and determination in the bronze medal match.
Following a strong start from Team GB, going 2-0 up at the opening of the second quarter, India hit back almost immediately. They bagged three goals in the remainder of the quarter, two of which were from the menacing Gurjit Kaur, who troubled the British defence. GB entered the third quarter 3-2 down.
The 2016 Olympic Champions kept their heads and managed the second half of the match particularly well.
A rare Captain’s goal from Holly Pearne-Webb put the side level. With the exception of a couple of nerve-wracking chances from India, a succession of penalty corners eventually landed Balsdon’s winner, and the bronze medal, into Team GB’s lap.
Team GB Women were deep into India’s half when the full-time whistle went, retaining possession in the corner and seeing the win through. Fiona Crackles sprinted to the far corner to celebrate with her teammates.
Following some impressive moments in the tournament from the Sport and Exercise student, Crackles makes history, being part of the only British Hockey side to medal three consecutive times at the Olympic Games.
Earlier on in the year, Crackles spoke to Palatinate during a time when it was uncertain the Tokyo Olympics would go ahead. The 21-year-old, who has split her academic year to focus on the intense training schedule for the games, now stands alongside the likes of Olympic champion Laura Unsworth.
After the game, captain, Hollie Pearne-Webb, spoke of the fact that ‘‘Olympic bronze even a few months ago was in our wildest dreams’’, highlighting the significance of medalling in Tokyo.
Crackles, who was enrolled in Team GB Hockey’s full time training programme in January, has proven her worth, coming through the ranks of the national team to perform on the world stage.
The bronze medal, as described by Balsdon, is a ‘‘dream come true’’ and a testament to GB Women’s Hockey’s Olympic success over the past decade.
A huge congratulations to Fiona Crackles on her bronze medal win, doing Durham and her country proud.
Image: Durham University/Fiona Crackles