The British Olympic Association (BOA) has announced today fourteen players selected to compete for Team GB in women’s handball at the London 2012 Olympic Games. They will make history as the first players ever to represent Team GB in the sport of handball at the Olympics.
The handball players selected to Team GB today are:
Zoe van der Weel
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Although making its Olympic debut in 1936, handball has only been a regular part of the Olympic Programme since 1972 and London 2012 marks Team GB’s first Olympic appearance, in both the women’s and men’s competitions.
While it is relatively unknown in Great Britain, handball is the most popular women’s team sport in Europe, and British Handball figures show the game's popularity is on the rise, with a 600% increase in participation in recent years.
The GB Handball performance programme was formed in 2006, following London’s successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. The squad has made exceptional progress over the last six years to prove they are now capable of delivering credible and competitive performances against the strongest handball nations in the world.
The GB women’s team have recorded a number of high profile victories in the build up to the Games, including a win over African champions Angola at last year’s test event in the London 2012 Handball Arena, named the Copper Box.
The squad members, many of whom have made great personal sacrifices to relocate to their central training base at Crystal Palace, will face Montenegro, Russia, Croatia, Brazil and Angola in the group stage of the Olympic tournament.
With their Olympic debut this summer, Team GB handball aims to inspire future generations to take up handball and provide a lasting legacy for the sport in the UK. While Team GB qualified for London 2012 via a host nation place, their ambition is to qualify for future Olympic Games by right.
The addition of the handball players brings the total number of athletes officially selected to compete for Team GB at London 2012 to 261 across twenty-three sport disciplines: archery, athletics – marathon, badminton, boxing, canoe slalom, canoe sprint, cycling, diving, fencing, handball, hockey, modern pentathlon, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronised swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon and weightlifting.
The athletes were formally nominated to the BOA for selection to Team GB by British Handball, the National Governing Body for handball in the UK.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said:
“I am delighted to welcome the women’s handball squad as officially selected members of Team GB – Our Greatest Team. These players will have the added honour of making history as the first ever British Olympic handball players when they walk out into the Copper Box this summer.
“The squad has demonstrated that they are ready to deliver competitive and credible performances against the strongest handball nations in the world and I am sure that the vocal encouragement of the home support will spur them on to inspirational performances.
“Handball is a dynamic, fast-paced, exciting sport and I believe London 2012 presents a great opportunity for Team GB’s players to inspire future generations across the UK to take up handball and create a lasting legacy for the sport in this country.”
British Handball Performance Director Lorraine Brown said:
“The GB Women’s Handball team announcement today is another milestone for GB Handball.
“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.”
Team GB Handball Captain Lynn McCafferty 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.”
Team GB Handball Goalkeeper Jane Mayes said:
“Being selected as a member of the GB handball team to participate in the London 2012 Olympic Games is a dream come true.
“Three years ago I never thought I would be where I am today. But after a lot of hard work, good coaching and support from family, friends and team members, I have come a long way. I would never have done it without them.”