London 2012: Louise Jukes’ gamble pays off with an Olympic jackpot

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THERE is always a risk that taking a gamble may not pay off, but for Louise Jukes her gamble has seen her claim the ultimate jackpot of an Olympic appearance.

The 28-year-old former Harleston Magpie star, took the bold decision five years ago to switch from a promising career in hockey to handball after spotting an advertisement for the Sir Steve Redgrave initiative designed to try to find new sportswomen in time for 2012.

Her obvious ability in the seven-a-side game was spotted immediately as she was granted a place alongside current Great Britain team mate Kathryn Fudge from a field of 8,500 applicants, kick starting a whirlwind journey across Europe from Denmark to Norway to develop her skills, before eventually returning home to spend the last year training as a team in a centralised programme in Crystal Palace, South London.

With the Olympic Games and an appearance in the Copper Box representing the nation in July now in her sights, Jukes reflected on the validation of knowing her high stakes gamble and five years of gruelling work, ultimately paid off.

“If I hadn’t been selected it would have been a long five years for nothing really,” she admitted.

“I cried my eyes out when I got told I was in the team. We were sat in a room and it was a bit like the X-Factor, with the four judges who strung it out a bit until they told me the good news and I just started crying.

“As much as I’ve always loved the sport there has always been that element of am I ever going to make it, has it all been worth it and did I make the right decision, so now to be here is fantastic and proves I did the right thing.

“The Games are going to be amazing and I can’t wait to get going. I wish it was starting now, because we have done so much to be here.”