GREAT Britain Men made good use of their matches in the qualifying group of the 2014 European Championship, putting on three good performances against strong opposition as their preparations for this summer’s Olympic Games continued.
The team, who travelled to Italy for the three matches straight from a three-week training camp in Serbia, got stronger as they went on, and only narrowly lost their last two matches, against Greece and Italy.
Steven Larsson once again proved Great Britain’s top scorer with 18 goals over the three games, while Chris Mohr and Gawain Vincent both scored 13.
GB opened the tournament with a tough clash against eventual group winners Switzerland, and after a good first half which ended with GB only four goals behind at 12-16, they went down 21-38.
Against Greece the following day, GB proved stronger in the second half. But having been 13-21 down at the break they couldn’t quite claw their way back, but did win the second period 17-14 to narrow the deficit to 30-35.
Finally, GB took on Italy, the team they beat during their tournament in Loughborough last year. But on home turf the Italians proved a tough opponent.
Nevertheless, GB battled well and were not overawed. 11-14 down at half time, they matched their hosts goal for goal in the second half and ended up losing narrowly 26-29.
* GB men now enter a vital phase of their Olympic preparations.
Players have now returned home to their families for a short break where they will also focus on individual fitness programmes.
They return to Serbia on June 25 for more intensive training and will take on the Serbian Under-21 side on June 30, as well as playing the Hungarian national side on July 12.
From Serbia the team will head to the Team GB holding camp at Loughborough University on July 16 where they will join up with the GB Women’s team and athletes from other sports before heading to the Olympic Village on July 23. They will then have one last friendly match against Serbia on July 26 before the Olympic tournament begins.
* Photo by Michael Barnett