Mixed emotions for Larsson

30 July 2012 / 15:28

When Steven Larsson steps out for Great Britain against Sweden in the Copper Box on Tuesday afternoon, it will mean more to him than the rest of the men's handball squad.

The 31-year-old was born in Scarborough but moved to Sweden as a youngster and that is where he was introduced to the sport, which has been an early success of London 2012. Larsson, who tops the Team GB goal count with over 200, represented the Scandinavian country at youth level but is a fully-paid member of Team GB.

He admits he will find the Group A preliminary stage encounter an emotional affair and told Press Association Sport: "It's going to be a clash of the titans. It will be a mental and emotional game for me.

"It's going to be an amazing occasion. I played for Sweden a couple of times at youth level but when I got the call from Great Britain there was no doubt who I wanted to play for.

"Right now they have a really good defence so we have to work on our offensive game. There is no pressure on us, we should feel free and enjoy ourselves because this is a once in a lifetime thing we are doing."

Team GB made their Olympic debut against reigning Olympic and world champions France, suffering a heavy 44-15 defeat, and Larsson, who plays his club handball in Norway, enjoyed a bittersweet evening.

He scored their first-ever goal at the Olympics to put them 1-0 up and threw in an additional three before he was harshly sent off for a foul on former world player of the year Nikola Karabatic, who appeared to trip over himself. However, Larsson, who will face no further sanction, allowing him to face the Swedes, did not let that ruin his night.

"It was awesome, what can I say?" he added. "It was a big moment in my career, we scored first so we were beating France, right?

"We played really, really well in the first 15 minutes against one of the best teams in the world and it will really help everyone to go through that.

"We need to step it up a bit but France are so good."