Leah Wilkinson looks set to finally make her Great Britain women’s hockey debut today (Tuesday) – after taking a mere 15 years and 169 caps for Wales to convince them she is worthy of her chance.
The Wales captain – who is the most capped Welsh team sport athlete of all time – is poised to make her first appearance for GB against India at Bisham Abbey, near Maidenhead.
It has taken the 33-year-old a long time to get there – she made her Wales debut against Ireland way back in 2004 – but good things come to those who wait.
The significance of Wilkinson’s late surge into contention is that she could yet go to next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Great Britain’s Tests against India – the second is on Wednesday – are preparation for the vital Olympic qualifiers against Chile in November.
If they come through the back-to-back matches against the Chileans then Britain – and possibly Wilkinson – could be one of 12 teams that will contest Olympic medals in Japan next July.
Wilkinson took over the Wales captaincy in 2017 and led her country to an impressive victory over India at last year’s Commonwealth Games. She also captained Wales through the Women’s EuroHockey Championship II in August this year.
The 15-year career has seen the Burton-on-Trent born defender represent her country at three Commonwealth Games – Delhi in 2010, Glasgow 2014 and last year on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Her GB call is the next stage of a journey that began when she started playing hockey at the age of five, while she has combined her senior career with the demands of teaching and being Head of Year at Ewell Castle school in Surrey.
She is the only Welsh player to make the squad to face the Indians, which consists of 16 Englishwomen, three Scots and Wilkinson.
Maddie Hinch will make her 50th GB appearance if she plays in either game, while Sarah Jones and Tess Howard miss out due to illness and a broken hand, respectively.
GB women’s squad to face India (1 and 2 October)
Giselle Ansley (Surbiton) – ENG
Amy Costello (East Grinstead) – SCO
Emily Defroand (Surbiton) – ENG
Sarah Evans (Surbiton) – ENG
Maddie Hinch (GK) – ENG
Sabbie Heesh (Surbiton) (GK) – ENG
Jo Hunter (Surbiton) – ENG
Shona McCallin – ENG
Hannah Martin (Surbiton) – ENG
Lizzie Neal (Loughborough Students) – ENG
Hollie Pearne-Webb (Surbiton) (C) – ENG
Izzy Petter (Loughborough Students) – ENG
Sarah Robertson (Hampstead & Westminster) – SCO
Amy Tennant (Reading) – ENG
Anna Toman (Wimbledon) – ENG
Susannah Townsend – ENG
Laura Unsworth (East Grinstead) – ENG
Charlotte Watson (Dundee Wanderers) – SCO
Leah Wilkinson (Holcombe) – WAL