Kate Richardson-Walsh, is the most capped female hockey player in her country’s history, and was captain of the GB and England women’s hockey teams for 13 years. An inspirational and charismatic leader she has been widely credited for helping build the incredible team ethos and commitment that drove the GB team to a nail biting victory at the Rio Olympic Games. In winning gold Kate also made history in other ways, becoming one half of the first same-sex married couple to win an Olympic medal playing in the same team.
Having made her international debut as a defender in 1999, Kate maintained elite performance levels for 17 years and made over 370 appearances for her country. After securing a bronze in London 2012, Rio 2016 was her fourth Games and finally yielded the coveted Olympic Gold medal. Alongside her GB duties Kate has captained England for 13 years, winning the European Championships in 2015 and securing a bronze and two silvers in three successive Commonwealth Games.
As GB captain Kate was instrumental in helping to construct the team ethos and resilience that ultimately paid off in Rio. From a disastrous low of 11th place at the World Cup in 2014, a process of self-examination and rebuilding was instigated in which the team built and signed up to their own collective culture of behavior, created a sense of common purpose and installed a distributed leadership structure to make sure this lived and breathed every day. Alongside this a process of learning through experience and collective reflection helped build a team that was able to adapt and withstand pressure whenever circumstances changed.
Shortlisted for the FIH World Player of the Year Award, Kate has also been GB Hockey’s Athlete of the Year, has twice won the prestigious Hockey Writers’ Player of the Year, and in 2017 was awarded an OBE for services to hockey. Kate was also nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award in December 2016.
In 2013 Kate Walsh married Helen Richardson, her team mate since 1999. Adopting a double-barrelled name in the process, the ceremony was attended and celebrated by the rest of their team. Having retired from international hockey after Rio, Kate played one season for the Dutch team Bloemendaal and is now determined to turn her experience towards coaching, encouraging the grassroots development of the game and applying the leadership, team and performance lessons of a career in elite sport. She currently serves as an ambassador for UN Women and the Women’s Sport Trust, supports disability hockey as an ambassador for Access Sport, and sits on the British and European Olympic Athlete’s Commissions. With the pressures of international hockey behind her she is also looking forward to indulging a few of her other passions, including travel, fashion, cooking and Manchester United.
On October 2021, Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh, released their book ‘Winning Together: An Olympic-Winning Approach to Building Better Teams’ in which they share powerful lessons from the Great Britain women’s hockey team journey to gold in Rio 2016. They show how to create a winning culture in any environment, in any industry, so that you and your teammates can thrive.
Kate is an experienced motivational speaker and happy to host or deliver Q&As, keynotes and after dinners. She has a powerful leadership and team building story to tell and can speak on wide range of topics.
“Kate spoke at the Financial Times Women at the Top Summit, having just returned from Rio where she led the GB women's hockey team to Olympic victory. She gave a fascinating, insightful interview on leadership, team dynamics and the culture of a winning team, all in a way that was relevant to our senior corporate audience and which perfectly strengthened the core theme of our event: how to achieve gender balance and redefine leadership. It was an honour to have Kate join us and the audience loved it. I would fully recommend her as a speaker”
FT Women at the Top Summit
“I just wanted to pass on my huge thanks to Kate for last night's event. She was wonderful. She is such an inspiring speaker and was an absolute delight to have as a guest. We have been inundated with compliments for her and it seems she really struck the right note with audience in everything she said about team ambition and leadership. Please let her know how grateful we are.”
Mishcon de Reya, Entrepreneurs Forum
"Kate was superb in every aspect. So gracious, kind with her time and so nice to everyone. Her talk was indeed inspirational and resonated with all that were lucky to hear it. There were many key take-aways and I am sure , upon reflection that there may be more! I loved seeing her emotion and passion that still fires Kate and I am sure that whatever she does, she will be a resounding success."
Securis Investments, Team Away Day
"I just wanted to write to say the most enormous thank you for yesterday. You were utterly inspirational, and our team has not stopped talking about the impact you made. It was very easy to see why you were such an outstanding athlete, and leader. We agreed afterwards that we would all have followed you anywhere. I have seen many magnificent sports people tell their story over the years. From World Cup winners to Olympic gold medallists. You topped them all. It was an extraordinary hour that we will never forget."
"THANK YOU!!!!! What a wonderful, inspirational morning. I thought Kate was amazing, She was very passionate and very honest about her role as a captain, leader and as a team player."
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