The Olympics are so close I can almost taste it!
It’s been a busy period since my last blog instalment with plenty going on in the world of Handball. I have been injured since December but finally made it back on the court a couple of weeks ago for some training matches against some Norwegian club sides; great opportunity for me to get rid of those cobwebs!
I’m pleased to say the foot held up well and is giving me no grief, so hopefully I can put the last three months behind me and refocus on the Olympics. Being injured in the lead up to the Games isn't easy; you’re in a black hole and you question your spot on the team and whether you will make it back in time, but those worries are long gone now as i am back to full strength!
Training is really ramping up and at the beginning of March we went to Harlequins Rugby Club to meet up with some of the guys and have a training session with them. I have never played rugby before and couldn't wait to get stuck in. Me and the team were given a master class in rugby and it was great fun. We tackled the likes of Danny Care, Ugo Monye and Nick Evans on the pads, these guys play rugby at international level so I can’t say we managed to move them far! After a few minutes of the rugby it’s fair to say we were shattered, although we weren’t prepared for what we saw from the rugby team after a three minute handball lesson with them; they were in a similar way! It just shows you the different types of fitness and skill each sport requires, although it was satisfying to know that we aren't in poor shape!
During the same week the British Handball Association held a partners event at the Pinsent Mason's headquarters. All of our sponsors and partners came along including Collins Stewart. It was a fantastic chance for us to get to know some of our partners a little more and for us to show them how we are progressing towards the Olympics this summer. It was also the first time I had the chance to thank them face to face for their help so far!
We’ve also been getting some good practice in against some European sides ahead of the Olympics. Norway and Brazil travelled over to the UK to get a taste of Olympic Park and the Copper Box, the handball venue. We took the opportunity to play some friendly matches against them there. Norway are the current Olympic, World and European Champions so it was fantastic to have a chance to train with, and compete against, them. We spent some time training together before playing two short matches. We competed with them well and lost by pretty small margins. Given we have a 50 percent chance of playing Norway in our first game come the Olympics, it was a valuable match for us and the result definitely gave us a confidence boost. The following day we took on Brazil, who came fifth at the World Championships in December. We played a super first half but ended up losing the match 30-18 due to a poor second half. This was a shame after such a good first half performance and a good match against Norway the day before. But I guess that's the way sport goes sometimes!
Outside of handball I had the great news that I was going to be a Torchbearer on the Olympic Torch Relay! My teammate Lynn McCafferty and I were both selected through the British Handball Association to carry the Torch and I will be running my leg in June in the Isle of Man. It’s such an honour to be able to participate in the relay for what will be one of the most exciting events in the country! Carrying the Torch so close to the Games is really going to get me excited for the Olympics that's for sure!
To finish off March we played Poland twice; home and away as part of the European Championship Qualification. We played the home leg in Loughborough and lost out 33-20. After ending the first half just down 8-6, a disappointing performance in the second half meant we suffered a heavy defeat against Poland. However we really stressed the Poles in the first half which is extremely positive and proves that we can compete against some of the best teams in Europe! We travelled to Gdansk, Poland a few days later for our second fixture where we fought for a better result. The match ended 29-20. A much better result than in Loughborough but still room for improvement. A bad spell at the end of the first half saw us concede six goals without reply which punished us on the scoreboard. But we fought back in the second half only losing out by one goal. A fantastic week with some fantastic matches, Brazil and Norway have already qualified for the Games so it was awesome that we got to get some practice in against them before hand.
We have now just entered April, the year so far has flown by and we are certainly catapulting towards the Games this summer! No international matches for us this month just lots and lots of training making sure we are best prepared for the summer!