By Tom Degun

Alex DansonNovember 21 - Hockey star Alex Danson, who helped spearhead Team GB to a bronze medal at London 2012, is confident the sport can maintain its popularity in the UK after the huge surge in interest that followed the Olympic Games.

Hockey proved one of the most attended sports at London 2012 as sell-out crowds flooded into the 15,000 capacity Riverbank Arena on the Olympic Park in Stratford to watch the action.

Since the conclusion of the event, hockey clubs across the UK have been inundated with requests to join while England Hockey's "Give it a go" programme commencing at the beginning of the Games now has an estimated 23,000 participants.

But despite fears that interest will soon fade, Danson feels London 2012 is just the start for the sport.

"We have seen some amazing changes in our sport because of the London 2012 Olympics," she told insidethegames.

"I don't think I realised just how many people would be inspired by the Games when I was competing in them but now I can see that the interest is simple amazing.

"At my own club Reading, there have been so many people coming along wanting to get involved and that is great.

"The key is to keep this going and I definitely think we can.

"The Olympics showed that there is a real appetite for hockey and that the public want to see it.

"I will never forget the atmosphere walking out to compete at a home Olympics.

"It was absolutely amazing and to win a medal was a dream come true.

"Now we must look forward.

"We have the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games coming up soon which will be like another home Games and more big competitions in the UK will keep the popularity at a high level.

"So I feel confident that we can keep this Olympic buzz going for a long time."

Alex Danson London 2012Alex Danson’s crucial goals helped take the Team GB women’s hockey team to a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games

The 27-year-old forward from Hampshire, who also has three European Championship and two Commonwealth Games medals in her collection, continued that the Olympic Hockey Centre that will open at Eton Manor on the Olympic Park will further help the game develop in the UK.

The Olympic Hockey Centre, which is scheduled to open next year, will become the training base of the Great Britain team while it has also won the right to stage the 2015 EuroHockey Nations Championships.

"Having a central base will be great and it is a tangible legacy from the Olympics," she said.

"It gives us a home stadium that we showed at London 2012 we could fill.

"It is great for the fans and also great for the players because we will get to spend more time there together and become a better team.

"Since we have had a centralised system and trained together, we have climbed up the world rankings and become a major force.

"I think training together more often is the real key and that will help us turn that bronze medal into a gold come the Rio 2016 Olympics."

Alex Danson is a National Athlete Mentor for Sky Sports Living for Sport, a free secondary schools initiative delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, which uses sport stars and sport skills to improve the lives of thousands of young people in secondary schools across the UK. To find out more about Sky Sports Living for Sport and or to sign up please visit: 

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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