GB put hard-luck stories aside
Grace Carter and the rest of GB's women's volleyball team paid their own way to London
Great Britain's women volleyballers are keen to put talk of their financial struggles to bed as they prepare for their Olympic kick-off.
The squad have paid their own way to London having had their funding cut entirely two years ago, with a number of money-spinning initiatives employed to keep their training programme in place.
Their hard work will come to fruition when they open their campaign against Russia on Saturday and, according to libero Marta Bertelli, the hard-luck stories now have to go on the backburner.
"The unity we have as a squad, a lot of that has come from the obstacles we have faced," said the 34-year-old, who is the oldest member of coach Audrey Cooper's squad. "As a team we have played quite a big part in the legacy aspect of the Games and hopefully they can be a launchpad for the sport.
"We played Korea in a friendly last week and that did wonders for our confidence - we know we can compete. We're not the only athletes to have made sacrifices. All athletes have done the same and we're all equal now and that's what matters."
Bertelli - a former footballer who reached the FA Cup final with Charlton - was actually at the last Olympics, along with team-mate Grace Carter.
The pair were asked to go to China as part of the British Olympic Association's 'Ambition Programme', a scheme designed to give potential competitors a taste of what the Games are like.
The Nottingham-born 22-year-old, who will celebrate her 23rd birthday at the Olympics should GB progress beyond the groups, plays her club volleyball in France, is a key member of Cooper's squad and is hoping that young girls watching will take inspiration from her and her team-mates.
"One of the things girls in this country may not know is that we all play professionally," she said. "We all play all over Europe and people need to know that there is an opportunity for ladies to play.
"I play in France and I play with women from the ages of 17-40. I don't think there are that many sports that give ladies that sort of chance. The fact that those opportunities, especially overseas, are available, will hopefully make a difference when people are looking at starting to play volleyball."
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