Sport

Train with an Olympian: Salford handballer draws on public support to help fund Rio 2016 qualification

By Pippa Field

Some Olympic sports have taken UK Sport’s budget cuts to appeal or accepted them, but one Salford handballer has come up with an alternative plan to fund his Rio 2016 campaign.

Ciaran Williams was part of Great Britain men’s handball’s first-ever squad to play at an Olympic Games in 2012, but the sport saw it’s elite funding completely cut as it tries to qualify for Brazil.

But he has dreamed up a unique opportunity of training with British Olympians – costing a mere pound – including rowers, volleyball players and rowers.

Using the fundraising initiative of the Legacy 300 project – including athletes across different sports – Williams is hopeful his handball side can reach the next Olympics.

“The message is clear, the sports that missed out will not give up, and with support of team mates, anything is possible,” he said.

“Bring on Rio – this is where the word ‘team’ really comes into play. Last summer, all Olympic and Paralympic sports came under the same banner – ‘One Team GB.’”

Led by Williams, now based in Norway, the British handball squads have launched an online draw with tickets costing £1 to try and win a variety of training opportunities.

These include playing handball with the squad itself, track cycling with a gold medallist and with beach volleyballers.

With members of Team GB uniting against the funding cuts, the proceeds of the draw will go towards funding both handball and the athletes delivering the experience.

Rowers are also offering the chance to row with them and meet one of their gold medallists.

London 2012 bronze medallist Steve Rowbotham, who had a hand in organising the scheme, urged fans to back the handball squad.

“The ethos of Legacy 300 appeals to our team philosophy,” he said.

“I hope that rowing fans will support this project to help secure alternative funding to ensure our fellow athletes can continue to strive for excellence by competing and developing at the highest level.”

Part of the ‘Party for the Podium’ scheme, Legacy 300 helps support elite athletes by offering sports lovers the chance to train with the nation’s Olympians and Paralympians.

Full details on the Great Britain Handball Draw, which ends of February 17, and Legacy 300 can be found on www.partyforthepodium.com

Image courtesy of British Handball, via YouTube, with thanks.

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