GB handball: 'Fast, furious and lots of goals'
MSN Sport meets the British women's handball team and discovers what spectators can expect from the sport at the Olympics.
Handball is arguably one of the Olympic sports British fans know the least about but Team GB line player Louise Jukes believes the game will captivate crowds at London 2012.
"It's fast and furious. You'll see lots of contact, lots of goals, lot of energy, flair, aggression", says Louise.
"Handball is seven-a-side, two 30-minute halves with roll-on, roll-off substitutes. Wingers have to be really explosive and really agile, while backcourt players, who shoot from further out, need to be able to jump to get maximum power in their shot. Everyone has to be fast and everyone has to be fit".
Due to the sport's relatively low profile in Britain, would-be Olympians were invited to join the Talent Identification Programme and become part of the team. But don't be fooled. All the members of the Team GB handball squad come from extremely strong sporting backgrounds.
Jukes explains: "I saw the advert Sir Steven Redgrave did on television to join the [Talent Identification] scheme. I'd played hockey for the junior England team. I'm well trained and have played sport at a high level. It was about transferring the skills I had into handball. Once [the team] moved to Denmark, I immersed myself in that handball environment, kept training and things got better and better".
What constitutes success for Team GB at the Olympics? "We're hoping to make the quarter-finals", reveals Louise, "but when you've got home advantage and a home crowd behind you, you never know [how far we could go]. Norway, Russia, Denmark and Spain are the top four teams at the moment. Right now, they are the teams to beat".
Louise and her team-mates hope that London 2012 will provide a starting point for the growth of handball in Britain. "I've fallen in love with the sport and I'd love it to be big in Britain", reveals Jukes. "I want more clubs to start and more competitions to be held. I want to play professionally in Britain one day so I want to promote the sport and get people playing. It's such a fun game".
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