Great Britain handball teams given 2012 Olympic nod
2010 review: Handball hoping for a breakthrough
By Nick Hope
Olympic Sports Reporter
Great Britain's men's and women's handball teams will be allowed to take up host places at the 2012 Olympics.
The British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed British Handball had met both its performance and legacy criteria.
"It's fantastic news. We will now have the chance to show the British public how incredible the sport is," said GB men's goalkeeper Bobby White.
Home teams qualify by right but the BOA wanted to make sure teams in some sports would be competitive.
Britain's indoor volleyball teams were told in December that that they would be given the go-ahead to compete.
Highly popular throughout Europe, handball has struggled to generate significant interest in the sport in the UK.
But BOA chief executive Andy Hunt said: "I am confident that handball will be using London 2012 as a springboard to capture both the interest and the imagination of the British public and as a platform to qualify for future Olympics."
We want to leave a legacy behind for the next generation of handball players
Dani Sposi, GB women's team
The BOA, which makes the final decision on which GB teams are allowed to compete in London, has set a number of criteria, including an ability to deliver "credible performances".
Great Britain's handball teams are unlikely to be challenging for medals in 2012 but have demonstrated significant "performance milestones" since their formation in 2005.
"The announcement is recognition of the progress made by the GB handball teams and vindication of the hard work, dedication and commitment shown by the players who never lost sight of their Olympic dream," said British Handball performance director Lorraine Brown.
The second of the BOA's criteria concerns the creation of a legacy for the sport in the UK after the 2012 Games..
Mr & Mrs Handball sacrifice married life for Olympic goal
Following a UK Sport funding cut in 2009, GB's national training programme in Denmark was closed down and players were forced to scour Europe in search of professional club contracts.
However, in November 2010 British Handball signed an agreement in partnership with both Greenwich Leisure (GLL) and the Olympia Handball Club, which would result in them sharing facilities at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
It meant the creation of GB's first
UK-based high performance centre,
which will mean young talent will train alongside Britain's elite when the women's team take it up as their base from this summer.
"We're looking forward to being based in London to intensify our training and be ready to produce inspiring performances in 2012," said Dani Sposi of the GB women's team.
"We want to do it for the public, for the sport and for the legacy that we hope to leave behind for the next generation of handball players."
Decisions about the inclusion of Great Britain's water polo and beach volleyball teams are due in the coming months.
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