Fantastic fourth for GB's fantastic three.

Barry Middleton celebrates scoring for GB

Now that the Great Britain Olympic squads have been announced, attentions turn from the anxiety of selection to the excitement and determination about competing at the greatest sporting show on earth. For three players in the Great Britain squads the Olympic Games is a familiar friend. Barry Middleton, Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh will be competing in their fourth Games when they set foot on the pitch in Rio.

Each has their own story, their own journey, but the achievement is impressive however you look at it.

"It’s unfinished business for me.” says Kate Richardson-Walsh. “Getting the bronze in London gave me a little taster of what's hopefully to come.”

She adds: “I look back to 1999 when I got my first cap. I was amazed to get that and now I’m standing here about to go to my fourth Olympics and I’m just amazed it’s going to happen. It won’t sink until I finish and I can look back I’ll really feel how special it was.”

Of course the women’s captain shot to fame in the London 2012 bronze medal campaign when she returned from a broken jaw to lead her side to the podium. Injuries have played a prominent part in her wife and team mate Helen Richardson-Walsh’s career, too.

Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh celebrate during HCT2016

The midfielder has battled back from two serious back problems to defy the odds and take her place in her fourth Olympics:

"An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it's going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming."

This is a quote Helen lived by when she had her first back surgery in 2013 and then her second operation 11 months later. Now, with a European gold tucked away in her trophy cabinet the No8 is looking forward to being propelled into something great, another Olympics.

On the men’s side of things, Middleton, the most capped men’s player in his country’s history is also set to appear in his fourth games. What keeps him coming back time after time?

“They’re all different and that’s the beauty of it.” he says. “Because they are four years apart the teams are so different and there’s different emotions going into it. The first couple were great experiences but we didn’t deep down think we could win it. London we went with a hope of winning it and this one we want to go there and achieve something. We aren’t just there to enjoy the food and the village; we are there to play hockey and to succeed like any other hockey tournament.”

Middleton has plenty of Olympic memories, admitting the first tournament passed him by in a “bit of daze” whilst London 2012 remains an experience he will “never forget”. As he heads to Games number four, there is a clear memory he’d like to collect to trump those that went before:

“A gold medal would top the lot. That’s the plan; that’s why we do this. We want to make something special happen and that’s what we’re fighting for.”

Three very different journeys, three decorated and wonderful players hoping they will enjoy their fantastic fourth in Rio.