Hollie Pearne-Webb relishing Team GB’s Olympic underdog tag ahead of Paris 2024

By Sports Desk March 28, 2024

Hollie Pearne-Webb has warned Great Britain’s rivals not to write off their chances of making it on to the podium at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris.

Pearne-Webb won gold with Team GB in Rio in 2016 and captained them to bronze in Tokyo five years later, on both occasions against the odds.

Now the 33-year-old defender is targeting a third assault on the medals firm in the knowledge that they may have to do something unexpected once again.

 

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Pearne-Webb told the PA news agency: “Obviously I’ve been to the past two and been in a similar situation. It’s very similar to going into both Rio and Tokyo in terms of where we’re ranked, outsiders looking in.

“You probably wouldn’t expect us to be on the top of the podium when we get there, but I fully believe that we have the opportunity to be on top of the podium, just like I did going into Rio and just like I did going into Tokyo – and look what we did at both those Games.

“I’m really excited about the next few months.”

Britain, who will play in Pool B alongside Australia, Argentina, Spain, the United States and South Africa, open their campaign against Spain on July 28 having claimed the 12th and final qualification spot with a 2-1 victory over Ireland in January.

Pearne-Webb, who famously scored the winning goal in a final shoot-out victory over the Netherlands in Rio, is confident the nerve they displayed to edge their way to Paris will serve them well in the French capital.

“I always find Olympic qualification is more stressful than the Games themselves,” she said. “It’s been great preparation for us to be in those hugely pressurised moments of ‘It’s all or nothing’ in a game.

“We’ve experienced that now, we came through on the right side of it, thankfully, and that just puts a huge amount of confidence in the bank when we get to the Olympics this summer.”

Pearne-Webb’s comments came as she was unveiled as the chair of a new body which will give elite athletes a voice in the formation of sporting policies.

The Athlete Advisory Forum, a branch of the British Elite Athletes Association, will review proposals relating to matters such as coaching, culture, equality, diversity and inclusion, finances, representation, safeguarding, selection, social impact, support and welfare from organisations including UK Sport – which has made athlete input into policy development part of its response to the Whyte Review into allegations of abuse in gymnastics – and the BEAA itself.

Pearne-Webb is joined by fellow BEAA athlete board member and Olympic sprinter Asha Philip, former GB rower Alice Davies, para discus thrower Dan Greaves, bobsleigh Olympian Brad Hall, Scottish diver Grace Reid, men’s hockey keeper James Mazarelo, shooter Seonaid McIntosh, fencer Marcus Mepstead and retired sailor Kirstie Urwin.

“It’s a really good opportunity for something that’s across all sports, an opportunity for our voice to be heard,” Pearne-Webb said.

“We’re at a good place now, where there are many opportunities for us to have a say and give our opinions on various different things, so I think it’s a really good step in the right direction for what we need.”

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