Jukes’ handball hopes for post London 2012

LOUISE Jukes waved goodbye to London 2012 without tasting victory, but the handball ace insists she is far from finished with the game.

The 28-year-old former Harleston Magpies hockey player was making history at London 2012, no matter the result, by being part of the first Great British women’s handball team to feature at an Olympics.

But the smile was soon wiped off of Jukes and co’s faces as they lost all five of their group games, ushering in what is going to be an uncertain time for the sport in the post-Olympics funding landscape.

London 2012 has witnessed unparalleled investment in sport with teams like handball created from near-nothing in order to fill host-nation spots at the Games.

With the Games moving on to Rio in four years time, the expectation is that minority sports might be living on borrowed time.

Jukes (pictured) is adamant that should not be the case but also has her own ready-made contingency plan with a contract to play on the continent.

“It’s been a privilege to be able to perform in front of a home crowd,” she said.

“It was a really emotional game at the end against Croatia.

“Our captain Lynn McCafferty has cried before pretty much every game.

“We have been together since 2007/08 and now we are not quite sure what we are going to do.

“We have lived together for a lot of that time and made great friends.

“What happens next depends on funding but I hope we get to play more games in the Copper Box and the sport gets its funding.

“I am waiting to see what happens in the UK before I decide what I am doing but I have a contract abroad if I want to take it.”

If Team GB had been hoping to mark their first Olympics with something to shout about then consecutive defeats to Brazil, Croatia, Russia, Montenegro and Angola must have hurt.

However, despite those defeats, Jukes was adamant that the sport could hold their heads high after their London displays.

They had been granted their host nation spot by the British Olympic Association on the proviso that they would provide a ‘credible performance’ and she added: “Every game has been such a challenge because they are so much bigger and stronger than us but we have more than held our own.

“These are the top 11 teams in the world at the Games and it has been a privilege to play against them and compete with them.”

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