Hockey champion Sam Quek has achieved a huge amount in her life. Not only did she help lead Team GB hockey to gold at the Rio Olympics, but she also made the final four on I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! However, one of her most exciting moments was when she was awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours list. Last year, Sam was elected Ladies Day Ambassador Grand National Festival for 2017 and spoke exclusively to HELLO! About the honour. My family are into horse racing and we have some horses of our own, but I’ve never been to a Grand National as I’ve always been playing hockey or been away with the team. Even before I was asked, I'd been thinking, 'I have got to go to Aintree one year.' Speaking about the stylish element to the races, she explained: "Women in Liverpool love to get glammed up!"
Sam talks to HELLO! about taking on the role as Ladies Day ambassador at 2017's Grand National Festival
Sam, found a new fanbase when she made it to the final four in I'm A Celebrity... Get Me out of Here! In 2016, is keen to get across the message that women can be both sporty and stylish."There's often the belief that you have to be sporty and not glamorous – that you focus on your sport and that’s it. Or that you’re the type of woman who takes selfies and is only interested in how you look. Why can’t you be both?2 She added: "Before the Olympic final, the girls in the team were all doing our hair and makeup, because we like to feel good and look good. However, as soon as we step over that line onto the hockey pitch, we don’t care: it is all about winning and putting your body on the line. We'd all have spit in our hair, sweat running into our eyes... The most important thing on the pitch is the outcome of the game."
Her love of sport began at an early age, growing up in a sporty household on the Wirral with an older sister and two brothers – one of whom is her twin. Sam developed a love of football – she is a lifelong Liverpool supporter and played for the Tranmere Rovers Ladies team at 16, although she had already been spotted for her hockey skills. She has always had a passion for horses, too. Speaking about her first time on a horse, she reveals: "I was about ten when I first rode. My mum's best friend had two horses and, as her children got older and outgrew them, my twin brother and I would help out at the stables. Then I got involved in riding and I used to go in for local competitions," says Sam, who now owns a share of two horses with her boyfriend, property entrepreneur Tom Mairs.
Like many athletes, Sam has a luck number. She told HELLO! That hers happens to be the number 13 which appears on her hockey jersey. "It has always been very lucky for me. But, I do believe you make own luck to an extent. It's not just luck that you get selected; it's not just luck that you win a gold medal; it’s all the preparation and all the dedication that goes into it, too. I am a firm believer in fate but I think you have to put yourself in the best possible position for luck to happen."
Speaking about her MBE, which she received in 2017, she reveled: “You dream about winning an Olympic gold but it never crossed my mind to dream about getting an MBE," she said. "So when the letter came through I was so overwhelmed, so proud. In the future, when I'm, say, 70, I'm not going to have my gold medal on me but I'll have my bank card which says, 'Sam Quek MBE'. I'll always be so proud to be able to tell the story of the summer of 2016."