Sam Quek knows exactly what it take to reach the very top - winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The much-loved champion, 32, was part of the sensational team who won the first women’s hockey gold medal at the games for Great Britain.

And now she is joining Dan Walker in the BBC studio every morning for Olympic Breakfast, casting her expert eye over the incredible athletes competing at Tokyo 2020.

But things could have been very different for the talented sportswoman if she had decided to pursue another professional career.

Sam played both hockey and football at school and was signed to Tranmere Rovers FC as a junior, but had to make a choice between the two sports at the age of 16.

Splitting her time between football and hockey was hindering progress in both, so a young Sam was forced to take a single path.

Great Britain's Sam Quek (centre) and her team-mates celebrate winning
Sam Quek celebrates winning the gold medal match at the Rio Olympic Games

Get the news you want straight to your inbox. Sign up for a Mirror newsletter here .

“I played lacrosse, netball and football, but it came to a point where at about 16 I was at the same level with football and hockey and had to choose a path,” she told The Guardian in 2016.

“I ended up playing a bit more hockey than football and I was never in the first team at Tranmere, always in the reserves, which was fair enough because there were two trainings a week but I would only go to one. I ended up playing a little more hockey and fell in love with it.”

Football’s loss was certainly hockey’s gain as the defender went on to represent the England and Great Britain teams.

However, Sam has admitted she seriously considered “hanging up her stick and walking away” after missing out on the Beijing and London games.

She explained: “I remember post-2012 saying I never wanted to experience that feeling again. Words can’t describe how painful it was to sit there.”

Sam captained the team that competed in the 2014 Champions Trophy in Argentina and played in every match, unaware she had broken two ribs in the opening game.

Sam was over the moon when she received her gold medal in Rio
Sam was over the moon when she received her gold medal in Rio

Then came the famous Rio Olympics victory - with Team GB’s hockey team beating the Netherlands on penalties in the final.

Since then Sam has became a popular TV personality, appearing on I’m A Celebrity in 2016, as well as a BT Sports presenter and Daily Mirror columnist.

The Liverpool supporter has also hosted the BBC’s 606 football phone-in and has been announced as A Question of Sport’s first ever permanent female captain.

Away from the sport and showbiz world, Sam is married to property entrepreneur Tom Mairs.

Tom appeared as the titular Secret Millionaire on the Channel 4 show in 2010 and has built up one of the largest independently owned student property providers in the North West of England.

Sam is married to Secret Millionaire star Tom Mairs
Sam is married to Secret Millionaire star Tom Mairs

The couple has been together since 2013 after crossing paths at a bar in Liverpool and tied the knot in 2018 at Chester Racecourse.

Sam previously said she didn't want to get married until she met Tom, who was seen cheering her on at the Rio Olympics and met her on the I’m A Celebrity bridge.

After a year of trying, Sam fell pregnant at the start of 2020 but just five weeks later suffered a devastating miscarriage.

"I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I had guilt and shame that it was my fault," she recalled.

"I was looking back at everything I did during pregnancy and replaying every single minute. I put it all on me and my body. But I never said that to Tom at the time."

Then 11 months after their heartbreak, the couple announced the incredible news she was pregnant.

Sam Quek gives birth to first child with husband Tom Mair
Giving fans just a sneaky look, she shared a black and white picture of her newborn's hands

In March this year, Sam gave birth to her first child - a beautiful baby girl named Molly Doris Mairs.

Overjoyed first-time parents Sam and Tom took to social media to share their baby joy after welcoming their precious bundle of joy.

Sam was 11 days overdue, had a gruelling 27-hour labour and her husband described her C-section as ‘traumatic’.

Tom explained how his wife's strong stomach muscles made it hard to cut out the baby.

Now Sam is gracing our screens every morning during the BBC’s Olympic Breakfast.

All this week, viewers have been waking up to the hockey star and co-host Dan Walker as they present live coverage from the Tokyo 2020 games.

Sam Quek and Dan Walker
Sam Quek and Dan Walker have been hosting the morning's Olympic coverage on the BBC

Some fans have loved the pair so much they have called for Sam to join the BBC Breakfast team once the Olympics is over.

When someone on Twitter suggested Sam should stay, Dan replied: “Well… @louiseminchin is leaving.”

Sam has also been praised for giving her support to American gymnast Simone Biles, who withdrew from the women’s team and all-round finals to protect her mental health.

Hitting back at criticism of Biles, she said: “I just think it’s absolute nonsense. She said she wasn’t in the right mental frame of mind to go and perform well enough and that she could have caused herself some damage.

“Every sports person knows that if you go in half-cocked, you’re going to cause yourself an injury – none more so than in gymnastics.”

Do you have a story to share? Email [email protected]