The 14-strong GB women’s handball team for London 2012, confirmed today (21 June) by the British Olympic Association, includes two athletes who first came to the sport through the Talent ID campaign Sporting Giants.
Louise Jukes and Kathryn Fudge were both novices to the sport when Sporting Giants, the first appeal of its kind, was launched by the UK Talent Team (UK Sport and English Institute of Sport) in 2007. Fronted by five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave, the appeal attracted almost 5,000 applications from hopefuls wanting to try out for the sports of handball, volleyball and rowing.
London 2012 will be the first time GB has been represented at an Olympic Games in handball and for Louise and Kathryn, it has been a long journey since their lives changed in 2007 to realisation of their Olympic dreams in 2012.
Former basketball player Kathryn said: “It was like being an eight-year-old again, not knowing how to play or what you are playing.
“For me it was a step into the dark. You make sacrifices. It definitely makes you wonder why you are doing it, but then you see the Olympics and what you can achieve."
Louise, who was previously a member of the England under-18 hockey squad, said: "I knew when they dangled the Olympic dream over my head that I was always going to go for it. We think we can get in the top eight at least.”
Ian Yates, Senior Talent Scientist for the UK Talent Team, said: “It was a huge challenge to take a group of athletes from other sports and get them ready to perform at the Games in such a short timeframe. The selection of Louise and Kathryn into British Handball’s Olympic squad shows that talent identification techniques can be successfully applied to skill based team sports.
“Having placed their careers on hold, their selection is a real testament to their determination, the support provided by the World Class Performance Programme and the expertise of the coaching team. As someone who can still recall their first handball experience in Nottingham in 2007, I will be very proud to watch them line up in the British team at The Copper Box this summer.”
Sporting Giants also discovered a number of players for the men’s squad, including captain and former football goalkeeper, Bobby White, who will be hoping to be selected for Team GB when the team is announced.
Full GB women’s handball squad:
Sarah Hargreaves, age: 23
Jane Mayes, age: 23
Zoe van der Weel, age: 21
Holly Lam-Moores, age: 21
Ewa Palies, age: 23
Kathryn Fudge, age: 22
Lynn McCafferty, age: 33
Nina Heglund, age: 18
Yvonne Leuthold, age: 32
Marie Gerbron, age: 25
Kelsi Fairbrother, age: 22
Britt Goodwin, age: 29
Louise Jukes, age: 28
Lyn Byl, age: 32
For more information on Louise Jukes visit her profile
For more information on Kathryn Fudge visit her profile