Laybourne - Fight has been worth it

23 July 2012 / 20:14

The Great Britain women's volleyball side are revelling in being equals with the rest of the sporting world after two years of struggle, according to Rachel Laybourne.

The squad's build-up to the games was riddled with financial worries - they paid for their training camps themselves after funding was cut - and it was often wondered whether or not they would make the grade for London. They are present, though, and just five days away from their tournament opener with Russia at Earls Court.

Right-side Laybourne and her team-mates arrived at the Olympic Village on Sunday and have been acclimatising so far, with the 30-year-old from Sheffield admitting her pride at standing alongside some of sport's more well-known names.

"The past couple of years have been a real fight and we've had to do everything we can to be noticed," she said.

"But for the first time here, we're on a par. You get your accreditation, you get your kit and you're shoulder to shoulder with people as you've not won or lost yet. We're all here to do the same job, you're treated as equals and for me that is an achievement in itself."

A clash with world champions Russia presents the toughest of starts for coach Audrey Cooper and her squad, in a match which pits the third favourites against the 500/1 outsiders. But with a fast-moving style designed to throw Russia's strong, tall unit off their game, Laybourne is confident they can kick-off with a bang.

"There was never going to be an easy draw, we always knew whatever pool we went in to we would get World, Euro or African champions, that were all coming first across the world," she said.

"Russia is not an advantageous start, but if you'd have pulled anyone, it's not necessarily been one we would have wanted.

"Everyone here is saying: 'You're complete underdogs'. The pressure is on them, we go in calm, relaxed, but jubilant and buoyant. We're here to deliver and they have to come back with answers."