Olympic Outlook: ‘You may not have seen handball before, let alone thought of playing it’
There are only 153 days to go until the Olympic Games begin and to say I’m excited would be an understatement! Ever since it was announced that London was hosting the Games I’ve had my eye on competing and representing my country in my sport.
My sport in question is handball, one that you may have not seen before, let alone thought of playing. I first got into it back in 2004 when a local coach came to my school. I’d played netball, football and athletics before so handball seemed to be the perfect merge of my favourite sports. The rest, as they say, is history.
I joined my local team Haslingden Handball Club and represented the Lancashire regional team before stepping up to play with Great Britain when I got my first call up in 2006. I was only 15 then, so I waited until I’d finished my GSCEs and moved to Aarhus, Denmark in 2008 to join the squad at their base. This meant going to a High School in Denmark so that we could all train together as a national team before joining up with our different clubs in the afternoons. I was lucky enough to have my sister join me six months later on this exciting journey – we had played together back in Haslingden and now we had the chance to represent our country together.
My first club was with a fifth division Danish side, and when trials came up for the Aarhus under-18s side – one of the premier teams in the league – I jumped at the opportunity and made the squad. Playing with a club of such a high standard and training with the national team every day too started to pay off. In the next two years our GB handball squad would go on to compete with world leaders and previous World Champions France, as well as beating Finland – the biggest victory British Handball had ever had.
In 2009, we got the sad news that British Handball’s funding was being cut, so we had two weeks to leave Denmark and look for new clubs. Luckily for us a second division Norwegian side were short of players, and offered to provide us with lodging in return for playing. It sounds great, but in reality there were eight players sharing a three bedroom house with no funding. This proved too much for some players including my sister Chloe and she returned home in April 2009.
After 18 months in Oslo my Olympic ambition was back on track! I got a call from a club in Denmark and within a few months I’d signed my first professional contract with Danish premier division side Sønderjyske. In the same year, I was given a boost by Lloyds TSB when I joined their Local Heroes programme, which supports upcoming athletes. This support enabled me to stay in Denmark and compete in one of the strongest leagues in the world, which has hugely benefited my game. 2010 was a great year for me and I was even named the British Olympic Association’s Handball Player of the Year!
As a squad we are all looking ahead excitedly to London 2012. When I was younger I used to dream about how cool it would be to participate in an Olympic Games and now it becoming something of a reality. We have all now left our professional clubs and moved to London so we can become a centralised team again, living in and around Crystal Palace so we can train together on a daily basis. We are probably one of the least experienced handball teams going to the Olympics so our philosophy is to be the best prepared and utilise the home advantage! As a squad, we are all training hard to be named in the squad of 14 that will go to the Games so until then I’m going to knuckle down with my training to make sure that left wing position is mine come July.Tagged in: 2012, 2012 election, London 2012, Olympic Games, olympics
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