Sarah helps GB hockey ladies ensure place at Tokyo Olympics

Selkirk hockey star Sarah Robertson played a prominent role at the weekend as Great Britain’s ladies guaranteed themselves a place in next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 10:35 am
Jubilation in London for Sarah Robertson, right, as the GB hockey ladies confirm qualification on Sunday for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo (picture by Alex Pantling/Getty Images).

The GB squad – currently the defending Olympic champions – were involved in a two-way play-off against Chile on Saturday and Sunday, with the aggregate score determining who would make the flight to Japan in 2020.

The UK ladies won 3-0 on the first day, at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in East London, and followed that up on Sunday at the same venue with a 2-1 win.

Sarah, who has around 140 international caps for Scotland and Great Britain, figured largely in a midfield and attacking role – and her performance might have been boosted with the knowledge that, on Friday, she was named ClubSport Ettrick and Lauderdale’s Sports Personality of the Year.

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Wearing number 10, Sarah took a number of the penalty corners during Sunday’s second leg and often tried to instigate attacking moves.

She collected a superb long-range aerial pass from Giselle Ansley after 11 minutes and showed great control on the left but could not turn around to get her shot away.

Sarah had a quiet second quarter by comparison but, in the third, she was presented with a superb chance to score a goal. From a free hit in the 36th minute, the ball came across from Lily Owsley and Sarah scooped a shot towards goal from only four or five feet out – but it was scrambled away with a skilful one-handed push by Chilean ‘keeper Claudia Schuler.

Sarah represented an even more threatening presence for the Chileans in the final quarter and Owsley pushed the ball through to her on the right, in the opening minute, but it just ran too far ahead of the Selkirk player.

Sarah put the ball across face of the goal after another attempted attack in the 49th minute and won a free hit, while late on, she tried to burrow the ball out from under the ‘keeper’s body, following great skill once more from Owsley.

GB won the game with goals early in the first quarter by Tessa Howard and Laura Unsworth, while Fernanda Villagran pulled one back for Chile after 57 minutes of the hour-long game.

London-based Sarah plays her club hockey these days for Hampstead and Westminster, who have made a strong start to their campaign this year in the English Premier League, having won promotion last season.

She travelled extensively over a six-month period with the GB women’s squad in the FIH Pro League and, earlier this year, she was part of the Scottish squad which contested the EuroHockey Championship II in Glasgow. The Scots were aiming to win promotion to the top hockey division in Europe – and they won every game to realise their goal.