Super-excited Hope Ralph has her eye on a medal in Tokyo

Hope Ralph might be grinning from ear to ear about making the Olympic squad, but the 21-year-old’s thoughts are with her close Taranaki mates Holly Pearson and Anna Crowley who sadly missed out on joining her in Tokyo.

Tell us about that magical moment when Vantage Black Sticks Head Coach Graham Shaw told you that you’d made the Olympic squad.
We got an email first with the list and I was like “Is that my name?” I was speechless. And then I got a call from Graham later that day. I was a bit numb as I didn’t know how to feel because it was so surreal. But then I was super excited.

After the rollercoaster of the last year, did you think we’d get to this point of being on the eve of heading to Tokyo?
I didn’t want to think as if it wasn’t going ahead. We just had to train hard like we were going. If it wasn’t going ahead we couldn’t do much about it but we couldn’t be on the back foot.

How tough was it hearing that your good friends from Taranaki – Holly Pearson and Anna Crowley – had missed out?
It was bittersweet as I was so excited but they’re my friends and I want them to do well. They were really good about it which helped me. Anna was back home (in Taranaki) but Holly came and gave me a big hug. We’re still so young and will have so many more opportunities.

What was it like being back playing hockey in the recent Sentinel Homes Trans-Tasman series after such a long break?
It was pretty cool to be playing after 15 months away from it. In the first game I think we were just getting used to playing at that level again.
Looking back on the series, we needed to be more clinical in both circles but I’m proud of how hard we worked for each other.

You scored your first goal for your country in the draw with Argentina in last year’s FIH Pro League in Christchurch. What were your memories of that day?
When I scored I was jumping up and down. Have you seen the video? It was pretty special that Liv (Olivia) Shannon hit it to me as we’d played so much hockey together. It was Under-18s all over again.

Hope Ralph celebrates a goal during the FIH Pro League vs Argentina in February 2020.

Who have been the main influences on your hockey?
My Mum Karla has coached me since I was four and through to Sacred Heart Girls’ College, along with coaching Anna and Holly as well. Verity Sharland taught me a lot through Under-18s, as have both Greg Nicol and James Coughlan.
It was special to have Mum here today (for the Olympic squad naming) as well as my Dad (Steve) and my younger sister India who I forced to be my running buddy during lockdown.

What keeps you busy when you‘re not playing hockey?
I’m studying Sport Management at AUT and finish my last two papers this semester and then I graduate. I want to join the Police Force after hockey but if that doesn’t work out I’ve always got my degree.

What are your goals in Tokyo?
I want to win a medal (she smiles) and to keep working hard and leave everything out there every game.

  • June 15th, 2021 in
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