Something a little different for the blog this week and on Tuesday, I took the opportunity to attend the Media Day for the Team GB Women at their training camp in Guildford.
Based at Surrey Sports Park, familiar to BBL fans as the home of the Guildford Heat, 18 hopefuls are battling it out for the 12 places on offer at the London Olympics.
After a couple of hours watching training and then interviewing some of the players for future articles, I came away very impressed with what I saw and believe Team GB are looking professional both on and off the floor.
When the Olympics roll around, if you have tickets for the Women’s tournament and you end up watching Team GB, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, there’s a belief that the Women’s team are on the verge of something special.
The intensity of the players was good to see during the open part of the training session. Normally at media days you will see players going through the motions for the cameras, but the intensity during the session was great to watch.
The reason is because the players are desperate to make the final cut. Even those in the squad you would expect to make it, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a major tournament on home soil is driving everyone on.
One of the things I discovered from talking to coach Tom Maher and some of the players is that their performance at last year’s Eurobasket means other national teams are now taking Great Britain seriously.
After getting into the second round of Eurobasket, the GB team showed their potential by coming close to getting wins over Lithuania and Russia (the eventual champions), while also running Turkey pretty close.
Knowing how close they came to advancing further in last year’s tournament is a major driving force for these players and they hope it will spur them onto greater things at this year’s Olympics.
But that’s over 2 months away and in the meantime the squad are about to embark on an intensive schedule of warm-up games that will take them all over Europe, and beyond — including a trip to China.
However, during this span they will be playing a number of games on home soil and all of them will be against decent opposition.
The weekend of 9-10 June will see a double-header in Edinburgh (Meadowbank) against Canada, who are a side looking to make it into the Olympics via the qualifying tournament.
Then in July, there’s some interesting clashes taking place in Sheffield and Manchester. While the final game against the USA on 18th July at the MEN Arena is probably the most anticipated game on the pre-Olympic schedule, it’s worth mentioning that the games in Sheffield a few days earlier includes a pre-Olympic meeting with the highly-ranked Australian team.
It’s going to be a busy summer for the GB Women and if all goes well, a successful one too.
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