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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Asker Adventure Reaches Climax

BRITISH handball athletes have been plying their trade with Asker HC in Norway for three seasons, but this year will be their last as Project Homecoming sees the majority of the GB players come to Crystal Palace to prepare for the Olympics next year.

With GB assistant coach Vigdis Holmeset in charge at Asker, a string of GB players have experienced the Norwegian game over the last two and a half years, and helped turn the club around from one threatened with relegation to one challenging for promotion.

The players have all bonded with their squad-mates at Asker and formed a successful team, which will make it hard for them to leave for London later this year.

“It’s going to be a real shame to leave a club we've been at for the past two and half seasons,” said Louise Jukes. “They have been incredibly supportive to us and we would not be where we are now without them.

“We've made a lot of friends here and will miss them terribly. However knowing what it’s like to play together and how much it can improve a team shows us first hand that being together in London is the future if we want to have a chance at 2012.”

After initially helping to save Asker from relegation in their first season, the GB players and the rest of the team turned things around and finished second in the league last term. But that meant many of their players receiving offers to play elsewhere.

“This season was always going to be tough after losing six of our key players after coming second in the league last season,” added Jukes. “But we did however gain GB winger Britt Goodwin and young Nina Heglund also stepped up to the seniors having shown her form with the youth team.”

Jukes - who along with Kathryn Fudge are the only two GB athletes left of the original players to make the move to Asker - added: “The season has been up and down for us, often facing teams who play their elite Liga players against us in order to secure the win.

“We've had some very good results but unfortunately we will not be knocking on the door of promotion this season. It has taken some time to get the team functioning as a unit with the majority of the players coming half way through the season but things are looking up and we are currently sitting fourth in the table.

“There have been some great performances from the GB girls, particularly Britt Goodwin who is, like she is at GB, sitting as top goal scorer for the team, often converting 10 goals a game. It really is fantastic being able to train with each other day in day out, and we have improve leaps and bounds under the guidance of GB assistant coach Vigdis Holmeset.

“We still continue to go to the elite training with Marit Breivik and some of the Norwegian National team players and it is a huge honour to be invited to this. They are some of the best players in the world and to be able to learn from them and even be on the same court as them is a real privilege.”

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