A BURNLEY-BORN handball star has been getting to grips with Olympic fever.
Holly Lam-Moores (21) represented Great Britain in the London Handball Cup at the brand new Olympic Handball Arena, hailing the experience as “incredible”.
“The arena is just fantastic,” she said. “It’s got a 7,000 capacity and there must have been around 3,000 people there watching, which is just fantastic for the sport.”
Great Britain beat current African champions Angola 22-20 at the Olympic test event, but lost out to Slovakia (22-17) and Austria (31-23) .
Despite the defeats, Holly said there were lots of positives to take from the tournament.
“We played well and it was good to go up against these teams. The Angola game was especially encouraging because they are a really good team who about to go and take part in the World Championships.”
A career in handball is not exactly a path most youngsters think about taking when in school, but Holly admits she was hooked from the minute she played.
“It was pure luck how I got into the sport. When I was in Year 8 at school we used to do it one hour a week in PE. I really enjoyed it. Then a club was set up in Haslingden and I decided to go along and carry it on.
“I was soon getting selected for Lancashire and England trials. Then the Olympics came along and it became a Great Britain set-up. I was told that if I wanted to be involved I would have to go and play in Denmark after my GCSEs, because they have one of the best leagues in the world. I started off in the lower leagues but after a while I was offered a contract at one of the teams in the top league.”
In 2010, the Great Britain girls - the majority of whom plied their trade across Europe - were given the option to either carry on doing that, or all move back to London and train as a team in the run-up to the Olympics.
“It’s been really good so far. We’re not expecting to go to Olympics and win any medals because we are obviously behind the other teams in terms of how long the sport has been going for in this country. We want to put in good performances though and try and win as many matches as we can.
“The idea for us is to use the Olympics to create a handball legacy here in the UK. With the coverage we will get through London 2012, it is important the British Handball Association has everything in place afterwards to deal with the sudden demand, and we want to help as much as possible.”
Although London 2012 is firmly at the forefront of Holly’s mind at the minute, she is looking forward to continuing her club career after next summer.
“I think I’ll be able to play for another 10 years after the Olympics and I want to do at the highest possible level.
“There’s a good chance I’ll end up back in Denmark but we’ll just have to wait and see.”