OLYMPIC dreams seem closer than ever now for the GB Women’s handball squad after the team visited the Olympic site before a series of talks at the British Olympic Association’s central London HQ.
The team was in town to prepare for this week’s Stadtwerk Cup in Switzerland, but combined their stay with a visit to the Olympic site which is quickly taking shape.
They were also the first sport to be guests of the BOA’s at their plush new offices in central London, a visit which was part of the Olympic Awareness Training programme which is being rolled out across all sports in the next year.
The team met GB hockey player Simon Mantell to chat about being a first-time Olympian, and were also told about some of the advantages and pitfalls of being part of Team GB and living in the athlete village during the games.
It is all part of a process designed to have the athletes fully prepared for the Olympics, with as many of their potential problems ironed out beforehand so they can focus on their performance.
“It’s amazing to be here in London, both at the Olympic site and at the BOA offices,” said team member Kathryn Fudge. “It has shown us that it’s more real and it seems closer now than before.
“For many of us we’re closer to the Olympics now than when we started out! It’s going to come round quickly, and we’re all really excited.”
En-route from the Olympic site to the BOA offices, GB women’s team head coach Jesper Holmris said: “It’s good for us to see the Olympic village for the first time, and to see how it’s coming along. There is a lot more building work happening and it is larger than I thought.
“I think it’s good for the athletes to see it and get inspired and motivated by it because it’s not that far away now.
“I think everybody was a bit worried that if we didn’t get the extra funding we might not make it and there may not have been a British handball team at the Olympics. And when the BOA said a few weeks ago that they weren’t sure of the size of the team, we didn’t know what would happen.
“But now we have new funding, and I think it’s definite that we will be there, so it’s a good time for us. It has been a tough year, but we have come through and are looking forward.
“It is good to be here for everyone, but especially for the players who have joined us most recently. We have some young players in the team now, and when you’re 16 or 17 years old and new to the team they get to realise what they’re doing and just how big this is.
“This should inspire them too. If there was not 100 per cent commitment before, now they have visited the Olympic site and the British Olympic Association, hopefully they are 110 per cent committed now.
“It’s only two and a half years to go now, but it’s not just about the 2012 Olympics. Our victory over Finland gave the team a place in the European Championships and gave them something else meaningful to focus on, and I can see a change in some of the players.
“Having other goals is great because it is a big motivator. That’s good because if it was only the Olympics at the end of the tunnel it would be hard to keep the players going.
“And of course it was also good for UK Sport and the British public to see that we are progressing and can play well and be competitive.”
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