Shona McCallin: Olympic Homecoming
Ever wanted to know what happens to athletes after the Olympics? We caught up with our own gold medalist Shona McCallin to find out:
I remember being on the plane on the way back from Rio.The stewardess asked for a picture with me and the GB hockey girls. She was saying that we were famous. I didn't believe her and asked, "Are you sure?” That's when it first started to hit me - the impact of what we had achieved.
While we were in Rio, the whole team committed to staying off social media. We wanted to experience the games to their fullest extent, minimize any possible distractions and stay focused on our goal which was to win a Gold Medal. Because we were in our own little bubble in Rio, we had no idea that our victory was such a big deal. Nine million people had tuned in to BBC to watch the final match between Great Britain and the Netherlands. Nine million!
When we landed at Heathrow Airport, there were photographers everywhere waiting for all the Team GB athletes. Fans turned out with hockey sticks and phones, asking for signatures and selfies. The amount of people who told me that they cried when we won is mad – they had no emotional connection to us, but they started following the games and got hooked.
The day after our return, I was extremely tired. I had lots of washing to do and an empty fridge. After months of training with the squad, suddenly I was on my own. That day was really hard, thinking it was all over. But that’s the only day I felt sad. Since then, it’s been nonstop fun - catching up with friends, lots of media appearances, school and club visits, awards shows, and various holidays.
(P.S. Follow me on Instagram to stay up to date on the daily craziness @shonamccallin24.)
Several weeks after arriving home, there was a photoshoot with the Daily Mail and most of our team. It was so good to see people again and dress up into something that wasn't sports kit.
A couple weeks later, we got invited to Buckingham Palace with the rest of the medallists from Team GB. It turned out to be one of the best days of my life. We met the Queen, Prince William, Prince Harry, and the Prime Minister, to name a few.
In November, I went to the Lincolnshire Sports Awards and was honoured with the Sportswoman of the Year Award. I also got to share the Sports Personality of the Year Award with my teammate Georgie Twigg. I brought my 83-year-old grandmother as my date and we had a great time! She’s so funny about all of it. She doesn’t really care about the medal, but she loves the box that holds the medal.
I also attended the BT Sports Awards and the British Sports Journalist Awards with some of the girls. We picked up the Team of the Year award at both which was a proud moment for all of us. We’ve been through so much together, and worked really hard over the last couple of years to create something special as a team.
The Team GB ball was a blast. I was so excited to be reunited with all the GB athletes and hear about what everyone’s been up to since Rio!
Lots of interviews, parties, and red carpets, but my favourite thing about this journey has been meeting the young hockey players. It’s fab hearing how kids were inspired to play field hockey after watching us in the Olympics – the fact that we are helping to increase visibility of the sport makes me really proud!
It's important to rest the mind and body after such an intensive period leading up to the games. I took my opportunity to go on holiday for several weeks. For the first time in four years, I didn’t have to worry about training or going to the gym. I went hiking, swimming, and treated my feet to a much-needed pedicure! If you have never been to Croatia or Thailand before, you need to go!
What’s next for Shona? Look out for “Shona McCallin: Where Do You Go From Gold” coming soon!
Want to know what gear helps make an Olympic champion? Click here for What’s in My Bag: Rio Edition.