Oakham hockey international Ellie Watton has been speaking of her Commonwealth Games joy, as she prepares for the most important game of her career tonight.
The school teacher and her England teammates take on New Zealand in Glasgow this evening, with a place in the Commonwealth Games final and hopes of a gold medal at stake.
Ellie, who has taught at Oakham School for three years told the Mercury: “To qualify for the semi-finals is fantastic and we are hoping we can perform to our best against New Zealand so we can be playing for the gold medal on Saturday.
“I have had some lovely messages of good luck and congratulations from the staff and students at Oakham School. The support they have given me has been a real boost and I feel extremely lucky to have so many people wanting me to do well and cheering me on.
England won through to the last four after wins against Malaysia, Wales and Scotland, and a defeat by Australia.
Ellie, who is 24 and lives in Oakham, scored a goal in one of the games.
She said: “On the pitch, for me the biggest highlight so far has been scoring my first Commonwealth Games goal in our 5-1 win over Malaysia.”
Ellie is a member of the senior England and GB women’s hockey team, making her international debut in February last year against South Africa.
In April she joined the GB centralised training squad which is targeting the Olympics in Rio in two years time, and now trains and plays hockey three days a week while teaching at Oakham part-time.
She said: “I think the biggest highlight off the pitch had got to be the opening ceremony, having thousands of people cheering for you as you walk in is an incredible feeling and one that I will never forget.
“The atmosphere of being in a village with lots of other athletes from different countries and different sports is also great because you get the chance to chat to a huge variety of different people and it is quite sociable.
“I know that some of the students have been able to come and watch me play live in Glasgow which is fantastic.
“Unfortunately many of them will be unable to watch our semi final as they are heading out to South Africa on the school sports tour where I would like to wish them a huge good luck! This time three years ago I was out in South Africa on that school sports tour having a fantastic time and certainly never thought that three years later I would be at the Commonwealth Games.”