"GB women's hockey team are Olympic champions," writes Sarah Haycroft in her exclusive Surrey Comet column. 

"That statement is something that anyone involved with hockey in our country has always longed to hear.

"It is what we trained day in day out for since London 2012 when the girls won bronze.

"However, having come so close to being on the plane to Rio, I do have a huge amount of disappointment that it wasn't me standing up on the podium receiving an Olympic gold medal alongside my team mates.

"There are 31 of us who train full time to achieve our dreams of winning Olympic gold.

"Having witnessed and been through every training session and every meeting I know how much hard work and dedication it takes to become an Olympic champion and I am so proud that the girls made all of those sessions, hard work, and many tears pay off.

"I am proud of all 31 of us because it is the culture and training environment we have created that has produced an Olympic gold winning team.

"Not only did the girls win Olympic gold, but they did it in the best way possible, winning every single game. That is dominance.

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"The girls adapted to each opposition and every scenario they faced.

"A lot of that good work is down to a session our coach, Danny Kerry, calls 'thinking Thurday' in which we have a mini tournament each week where we face many different scenarios and have to adapt our play accordingly.

"One big philosophy of his is for us to solve problems ourselves on the pitch, and these thinking Thursday sessions are great for that.

"The sessions are probably the most competitive and we live our value that 'we are winners', all wanting to end the week as the victors of thinking Thursday.

"You could see this out on the pitch in Rio, the girls adapting during the games and having the desire and belief that they can beat any team in the world.

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"We love to keep the crowd entertained by winning on penalties, just like the European final in 2016.

"It was absolutely nerve wracking to watch, after such an exciting and engaging match, penalties would just top it off.

"As the final whistle blew and penalties were confirmed I was extremely confident that the girls would be crowned Olympic champions.

"It was the re-run of the European final and I could see that was hanging over the Dutch heads, that and the impenetrable Maddie Hinch in our goal.

"She is - in my opinion - the best goalie in the world and showed her class yet again on the big stage, saving every single Dutch penalty.

"Hollie Webb also showed her nerves of steel as she scored the winning penalty, just as she did for our club Surbiton to win the Investec Premier League this season.

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"Practice, practice, practice. It was no fluke that Hollie scored and Maddie saved every penalty. Everyone put in hours and hours of practice to ensure at the crucial most pressurised moment they could deliver, and that they did.

"I am so proud of our amazing captain Kate Richardson-Walsh for being chosen to be the Team GB flag bearer for the closing ceremony, an honour she fully deserves.

"She epitomises an Olympic champion. Her attention to detail, desire to be the best she can be, and absolute professionalism.

"I don't know what we will do without her now she has announced her retirement, but I do know that she, along with all the other girls, will have inspired a whole new generation to follow in their footsteps and achieve their dreams.

"I am still extremely disappointed that I didn't make the final 16 that represented GB and won an Olympic gold medal, it has been, along with the GB programme, the toughest experience of my life.

"But it has only made me more hungry to carry on, become a better hockey player, make the team for Tokyo and help the team defend their title and make it 'double Olympic champions'."

*Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, support women's hockey from grass roots level through to the national team - investec.co.uk/hockey or on Twitter @Investec_Sport