Women's handball squad for London Olympics named
The British Olympic Association have avoided any surprises in naming the 14-strong Team GB women's handball squad for the London Olympic Games.
The GB squad, coached by Dane Jesper Holmris, was formed with the specific intention of competing at this summer's Games in 2006 and have been in a centralised training camp for the last six years.
They will become the first GB side ever to compete in the Olympic handball competition when they play Montenegro in the Copper Box on July 28.
The majority of the squad had never played the game before responding to Sir Steve Redgrave's Sporting Giants scheme after London was awarded the games, but the squad have made real strides and harbour realistic hopes of making the knock-out stages of the competition.
But with eight of the 14 players in the squad under 25, the real focus for the side is on the legacy which will be left after the Games.
There is an eclectic mix of players, with veteran captain Lynn McCafferty, 33, set to retire immediately after the Games, left-winger Britt Goodwin having won the Norwegian version of reality tv show Big Brother, right-winger Kelsi Fairbrother playing for England in the same side as her mother and pivot Louise Jukes representing England Under-18s at hockey.
Laura Innes has been named as the reserve, with Jeanett Andersen, Daniella Sposi, Dorota Basta and Amondine Webb the players from the centralised programme to miss out.
"The GB Women's Handball team announcement is another milestone for GB Handball," said British Handball Performance Director Lorraine Brown.
"In 2006 the performance programme started with just three women in the academy programme, and to now see two of them being selected to Team GB, along with the other quality players selected, is a testament to the progress made on court, as well as the hard work and dedication they have shown in their commitment to the centralised programme at Crystal Palace National Sports Centre over the past 15 months to be best prepared as a team for London.
"This made the selection process all the more emotional for those involved.
"I know the players selected will remain focused on the next 36 days and maximise this time to continue their preparations to compete in their first Olympic handball tournament."
McCafferty, who has lived apart from her husband Gary for much of the last six years, said: "I am absolutely over the moon to be selected to represent Great Britain in handball. I feel extremely honoured to be part of the biggest sporting event in the world, at home.
"The excitement around the Olympics is a buzz and British sports are going to relish in the atmosphere and I can't wait to be in amongst it all.
"I am looking forward to showing the British public how fantastic handball is and how hard we have worked and how competitive we can be with the best handball teams in the world."
GB squad: Sarah Hargreaves, Jane Mayes, Zoe van der Weel, Holly Lam-Moores, Ewa Palies, Kathryn Fudge, Lynn McCafferty, Nina Heglund, Yvonne Leuthold, Marie Gerbron, Kelsi Fairbrother, Britt Goodwin, Louise Jukes, Lyn Byl.
You can follow Holly Lam-Moores's blog for The Independent here.
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