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Olympic champion Susannah Townsend reflects on dream year, MBE and looks ahead to Tokyo 2020

By Alex Hoad

After reluctantly coming to the end of a ‘dream year’, golden girl Susannah Townsend set her sights on world domination and securing more Olympic glory at Tokyo 2020.

The 27-year-old was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours this week after helping GB women to a historic gold medal in a dramatic Rio final in August.

The Canterbury star said: “Everyone’s celebrating coming into 2017 but I don’t want to say goodbye to 2016.

Susannah Townsend. Picture Alan Langley

Susannah Townsend. Picture: Alan Langley

“For us, it’s been almost a dream year. I remember this time last year thinking ‘wow it’s a massive year coming up, what can we achieve?’

“Well, we have achieved almost everything there is out there to achieve, so for me it’s been an incredible year and the MBE tops it off.”

The midfielder – who has 109 international caps after making her debut in 2008 – revealed her hunger for more glory on the biggest stage and already has 2020 vision.

She said: “Everyone saw back home, nothing really went wrong in Rio. To bring home a gold, in the pinnacle of our sport...hopefully we can go on and emulate it in four years.

“You don’t want to just win one Olympic Games gold medal, you want to go on and become a dominant force in world hockey.

“We’re No.2 in the world now and certainly don’t want to slip from that. We want to continue to progress and get that No.1 spot. To consistently be No.1 in the world is our aim.” 

Townsend – who is going through  rehabilitation after knee surgery in October – revealed she almost missed out on her date at Buckingham Palace by accident.

She said: “I’ve moved house and didn’t change my address in time so my old housemate messaged me and said ‘there’s a really official looking letter here with Her Majesty’s something...do you want me to open it?’

“I said ‘please open it’ then I had to go round and collect it. I could have definitely missed it and not replied and not been on the list – thankfully I did, otherwise I would have been in trouble.”

She said: “It’s a bit of a shock. We just play a bit of hockey and try and inspire young girls and boys to play.

“To now be able to say Susannah Townsend MBE is a bit of a strange one. My twin brother and other brothers and sister will probably not like it too much but in the end I’m sure they will.  

“It’s pretty amazing for me personally but for everyone involved in hockey, it’s a massive honour.”

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