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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Battling GB Men Take on World Beaters

GREAT Britain Men took on some of their toughest opponents yet in France last weekend, competing in the prestigious Trophee Morbi Hand in Brittany against teams packed with Olympic and World champions.

Nantes have several international players who were among the best in the last World Championship, while top Spanish team Valladolid also boast many of the best players in Europe. And KIF Kolding are one of the best Danish clubs of all time.

The GB team competed well in the tournament, which formed an important part of their preparation for the 2012 Olympics in London next year.

Their first clash against Valladolid began well and they were trailing by just one goal at 5-6 in the early stages. But a pelvic injury to Seb Prieto was a set-back, and their opponents extended a bigger lead at the break.

GB’s shooting improved as the game went on, but Valladolid’s goalkeeper was in fine form and pulled off 23 saves to keep his side in a comfortable lead.

Seb Edgar scored four for Great Britain and Gawain Vincent, who was back on court after recovering from injury, added three in his ten minute spell on court.

The following day they took on KIF Kolding, and some great goalkeeping from Jesper Parker and Nick Satchwell enables GB to stay in touch with their rivals and were only trailing 5-7 after 15 minutes.

But with some key players out injured or unavailable, the pressure began to tell.

Mark Hawkins played well all round, scoring four goals and putting in an excellent defensive performance, while Chris McDermott (pictured) also scored four goals and Chris Mohr three.

The team are next in action against Israel in the qualifying stages of the 2013 World Championships in November.

* Photographs from GB Men’s matches in the Trophee Morbi Hand are available to view in the British Handball photo gallery

Thursday, August 25, 2011

GB Women Set for Venus Cup in France

FOR the third time this Summer, Great Britain women are in France this week preparing to compete against some of the best domestic teams in the Venus Cup in Marseille.

They will play three games in three days as part of the tournament, which is an important part of the preparations for the 2012 Olympics in London in less than a year.

They begin their campaign with a match against Handball Plan de Cuques on Friday, August 26, at 8.30pm, before taking on Nimes on Saturday evening (6.30pm).

Their final match will be against Toulon on Sunday afternoon before the closing ceremony and their return to Crystal Palace.

The tournament will also give the coaching staff a good opportunity to run the rule over their squad before preparations begin for their 2012 European Championship qualifying match in Montenegro in October.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

GB Men Prepare For French Challenge

GREAT Britain Men are preparing to travel to France later this month to compete in a high-level club tournament at Vannes.

The Trophee Morbi’Hand will see top teams from France, Spain and Denmark compete in the two-day event on August 27-28.

The event is the latest that will see the Great Britain team gain valuable experience of different styles and levels of handball as they prepare for the 2012 Olympics in London in less than a year.

The team will arrive in the town on the 26th and, following a welcome at the Vannes Town Hall, they will train that evening.

Another training session on the morning of the 27th will be their final preparation for the clash with Spanish side Pevafersa Valladolid, following which Nantes HB will play Danish visitors KIF Kolding.

The following morning the GB players and staff will attend a promotion event with local schoolchildren before the competition continues.

Depending on the results on Saturday, the play-off for third spot will take place at 4pm, while the final is scheduled for 6pm with the closing ceremony shortly afterwards.

The 18-man GB team will be led by captain and goalkeeper Bobby White from Milton Keynes, and includes newcomer Simon Wittlin who debuted for GB during their training camp in Lanzarote this Summer.

Valladolid are one of the best Spanish domestic teams who compete each year in the European Champions League.

Led by Juan Carlos Pastor, the former Spanish national team coach, they boast many of the best players in Europe including Sierra, Gurbindo, Perales, as well as Frenchment Joli and Serbian players Nikcevic and Krivokapic.

KIF Kolding are one of the best Danish clubs of all time with a lot of great players from handball history such as Lars Christiansen, Bo Spelleberg, Lasse Boesen, Frederik Ohlander and Kasper Irming.

And Nantes are one of the top French handball teams. Led by Thierry Anti, they have some of the best players from last World Championship in Sweden such as Ekdahl Durietz of Sweden, Rivera of Spain, Pribak of Serbia, Italian Scatar and pivot Gharbi from Tunisia.

Monday, August 08, 2011

PHOTOS: GB Women in Stelioplast Cup

Photographs of Great Britain women in the the Stelioplast Cup in Germany are now available to view online.

Please go to our online photo album to see some excellent pictures by Thomas Prenosil, including some from GB's victory over Trier.

More of Thomas's work can be seen at http://www.thomasprenosil.de/

Sunday, August 07, 2011

GB Women Beat Bundesliga Opponents

GREAT Britain women secured a dramatic 26-25 victory over German Bundesliga outfit Trier in their final match of the Stelioplast Cup, bringing to an end a successful road trip into Europe for the London-based squad.

After beating the Japanese national side in a match in France earlier in the week, GB travelled to Wittlich in Germany to take part in the prestigious Stelioplast Cup which featured some of the world’s top sides including Champions League winners Larvik and Bayer Leverkusen.

Despite not having a full-strength squad due to club commitments, GB played well and grabbed a fantastic opportunity for the team to play against some of the very best players on the world stage and to continue to gain invaluable match experience as preparation for the Olympics.

Head Coach Jesper Holmris was slightly disappointed with the squad’s performance against Bayer Leverkusen where they lost by 11, but the team responded well against Larvik, eventually going down 21-10 but competing well in the first half against a team filled with Olympic gold medal winners.

The two losses meant a match against Bundesliga team Trier, and the team were determined to end the tournament with a win.

This duly came despite being behind for 58 of the 60 minutes. Zoe Van Der Weel scored the winner with a minute remaining to take the match 26-25.

Bury’s Kathryn Fudge (pictured) was in fine form and scored five - a feat matched by Holly Lam-Moores. And Jane Mayes - in goal for the absent Hargreaves - had a fine second half with over 50 per cent save rate to keep the Trier attack at bay.

“This has been a great preparation for the start of the season, giving our players the chance to play against the best players in the world,” said Holmris. “We have had some brilliant team and individual performances but we still need more consistency to put a string of top performances back to back.”

Thursday, August 04, 2011

GB Women Beat Japan in Opening Clash

GB women secured a thrilling 27-26 victory over Japan in the first of their friendly fixtures in France on Wednesday evening.

Despite having driven from London to Rouen earlier in the day and despite missing some key players, GB still managed to secure a victory.

Captain Lynn McCafferty was missing as she continues to recover from shoulder surgery, and despite a gruelling journey they produced a fantastic, hard fought victory where every player put in a great performance.

The coaches had expected the Japanese to be very quick but they were caught out by the British side and seemed totally unaware of the progress GB had made over the last few years.

The GB defence was at its best and backed up by a solid performance by Jane Mayes in goal. It was the British wingers who were the quick ones and Holly Lam Moores contributed 5 goals and Zoe Van de Weel (pictured) matched her efforts from the right wing.

Taking over the playmaker role was young Nina Heglund who also had a great game scoring five goals and combining well with Lyn Byl in the centre of defence.

After the win, Lam Moores said: “It was very tense at the end but it was amazing to beat one of the teams in our block of target nations.”

Monday, August 01, 2011

GB Women Invade Europe!

GREAT Britain women embark on their travels this week, heading to France twice and Germany once to play both international and top domestic clubs over the next ten days.

With most players having enjoyed their annual summer break, they should all be keen to get stuck into their pre-season tour which will provide a good mix of different levels and styles of handball.

The team will take on Japan in Rouen on Wednesday (August 3, 8pm), and again on Thursday (6pm) with both games being at the Centre RĂ©gional Jeunesse et Sport.

The team will then head for Germany for the Stelioplast Cup in Wittlich, where they will play in small groups of three before the knockout stages.

Their first match is on Saturday, August 6 (12.55pm) with German team Bayer Leverkusen being the opponents, and they will then take on Norwegian team Larvik at 6.35pm later the same day.

Depending on results from the first day, GB will then play teams from the other group which may include Trier, Leipzig (both Germany) and FC Midtjylland (Denmark).

Finally they will travel back to France where, on Thursday August 11 (7pm), they will take on hosts Abbeville at Rue Josse Van Robais, 80100, before taking on the Algerian national side on August 12.

COMPETITION: Handball Features on New Stamps

HANDBALL is one of ten sports featured on a new set of commemorative stamps that have just been released to mark one year to go to the London 2012 Olympics – and we have ten sets to give away!

The batch of 10 first-class stamps are entitled "Get ready for 2012", and as well as handball they feature depictions of classic Olympic sports such as field athletics and gymnastics as well as more recent additions to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including triathlon, handball and wheelchair rugby.

The stamps are the third and final set to be issued during a three-year Games countdown, with the total of 30 representing the largest Royal Mail commission since the Millennium series in 1999 and 2000.

Stephen Agar from the Royal Mail said the stamps were a celebration "of what is set to be a great event in UK sporting history".

To stand a chance of winning one of the sets, just email British Handball Media Officer Frazer Snowdon on newsdesk@snowdons.co.uk and tell us the date of the start of the London 2012 Olympics.

Entries close on August 8, and the winners will be selected at random.