Kate Walsh, 27, who this year has led England to bronze medals at the Champions Challenge and the EuroHockey Nations Championships, has been announced as the 2007 Great Britain Hockey Athlete of the Year. 

England's stalwart defender, who plays her club hockey for Slough, made her international debut against Russia in May 1999 and has gone on to earn 135 caps for her country and 47 caps for Great Britain.  Along the way, she has scored 17 goals for England and three for Great Britain.  The bronze medal at the EuroHockey Nations Championships this year secured Great Britain's qualification for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing which the squad is now preparing for.

Internationally, Walsh has taken part in one Olympic Games (2000), three European Cups (1999-Bronze, 2003-Fourth, 2005-Bronze, 2007-Bronze), two Commonwealth Games (2002-Silver, 2006-Bronze) and two World Cups (2002-fifth, 2006-seventh).  She was elected as captain in 2003.

Withington born Walsh began playing hockey for Didsbury Greys at the age of 12 and has also played for Bowdon Hightown and Klein Zwitzerland.

Walsh is delighted to have been named as the 2007 Great Britain Hockey Athlete of the Year and commented ÔÇ£I am thrilled with this award and must thank everyone who has helped me during my hockey career. After the disappointment of 2004 it has been a long road and mentally tough at times but the team have really pulled together and I hope now we can keep making strides forward. I am honoured to receive this award, but I would trade every medal and personal trophy in for a chance to win Olympic Gold. I hope that over the next two Olympic cycles we can rise to the occasion. ÔÇ£

Women's Head Coach Danny Kerry, said: ÔÇ£There is quite a poignant photo of Kate on her knees in tears at the end of the Auckland Olympic Qualifying tournament in March 2004 at which GB failed to qualify for Athens. Kate, along with a number of other players, are stronger and better athletes following that experience and have shown great fortitude in striving forward. Kate's performance at the European's was outstanding, and she has been central in shifting the culture within the squad. I am delighted for Kate, and this recognition is a good reward for the resilience, commitment and leadership she has demonstrated.ÔÇØ

This is the second Hockey Athlete of the Year Award.  In 2006, the British Olympic Association presented a trophy to each of the 35 Olympic Governing Bodies for them to award on an annual basis to their top Olympic Athlete.  The Awards were introduced to mark the BOA's Centenary Year and the awarding of the 2012 Olympic Games to London.  Crista Cullen was the recipient of the 2006 Award.

Source: Great Britain Hockey ltd.