Natalie Haythornthwaite watched her beloved Roses finally bloom and now wants world success to match Commonwealth Games gold.
Haythornthwaite played a key role in club side Wasps’ netball Super League success and has made a dramatic graduation to the international stage on the Gold Coast.
And the 25-year old was in a state of shock after receiving her gold medal from Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis.
“I just want to start celebrate with these girls now, it’s going to be quite a party,” she said.
“I was so emotional up on that podium and I can’t believe I’ve got this gold medal, I don’t think I’m ever going to take it off.
“We’ve worked so hard for this and we never stopped believing. Australia are the best team in the world and we’ve just beaten them at their home Commonwealth Games, I’m just in shock. I couldn’t stop the tears on the podium.
“When I think back to when I started in the sport you just don’t think you can achieve this - but anyone can achieve anything if you work hard and keep believing.”
England hadn’t played a major netball final since 1975 but edged out hosts Australia and silenced a partisan home crowd with their second buzzer beating victory in 24 hours.
These girls have certainly learned the art of leaving it late and making you sweat, with Haythornthwaite making a key final quarter contribution from the bench.
Jo Harten drained the last gasp goal to beat Jamaica in the semi-finals and Helen Housby held her nerve to win a dramatic final 52-51.
“England netball are just getting started,” added Haythornthwaite
“We’ve been building and building towards this. We’ve got to pinch ourselves but hopefully we can keep building and do it again at the World Cup next year.”
Elsewhere there was doubles disappointment for Laura Massaro as she and partner Sarah-Jane Perry lost to home duo Rachael Grinham and Donna Urquhart 11-6, 11-8 in their bronze medal play-off.
That leaves Massaro to go home empty-handed from these Games after her quarter-final defeat in the singles.
Her elusive quest for a gold medal seems destined to go unfulfilled, with Massaro now 34, but she insists she still has more to give over the next two years, if not until Birmingham in 2022.
She said: “I wanted more than anything to go away with a singles medal and was so disappointed with that.
“I’m really proud of my career so far. Obviously I wanted more from these Games but there’s still plenty for me to play for, I’m not done yet. I’ve still got at least another season or two in me and I think I can win major titles.”
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