HOCKEY: Legacy of golden girl’s first visit is already paying off

Guard of honour for Crista Cullen at Long Sutton
Guard of honour for Crista Cullen at Long Sutton
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Officials at Long Sutton Hockey Club were delighted with the response to Crista Cullen’s second visit.

There was a bumper turn out of parents and youngsters, some playing the game for the first time, and club stalwart Peter Worth said: “It has absolutely amazed me, I am thrilled.

“The turnout was excellent and the advances we have made since Crista’s last visit are already superb.”

Club chairperson Lorraine Wallis added: “Crista was correct when she said we are a little family club... but we punch above our weight. And to have someone here today who has inspired a whole generation is absolutely superb.

“Since Crista’s last visit we now have women playing who had not picked up a stick for years.”
And, before presenting the GB star with a Long Sutton club shirt (with a number two on the back to signify the two visits and the two Olympic medals), Lorraine joked: “We are aware you do not have a club at the moment so you’re welcome to put this on and come and play for us!”

Crista was born at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital but spent her early life growing up in Kenya, where her Zimbabwe-born father and Kenyan mother still live.

Before moving to Leicestershire at the age of 12 to attend Oakham School, she was a classmate of three-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome at the international prep school in Nairobi.

Between the ages of 13 and 18, she spent much of her time back in the Boston area while staying with a great uncle during school holidays and weekends.

She was born with sport in her blood, her father being a professional golfer and her mother playing professional squash. Brother Gray played rugby for Northampton Saints and the Kenya sevens team

Cullen made her international debut in 2003, aged just 17 and as well as her two Olympic medals, she has won a Champions Trophy silver and bronze, four EuroHockey Championship bronzes, a World Cup bronze and a Commonwealth Games bronze. She has appeared in three Olympic Games, two Commonwealth Games and two World Cups.

She has 92 England caps, scoring 24 goals, and 103 GB caps, with 34 goals.