A handful of Olympic test events wrapped up recently, highlighted by women’s handball and table tennis as both were open to the public. The two sports in GB definitely face an uphill battle to reach the level of the world’s best. While a medal in table tennis is incredibly unlikely and a last place finish in the recently completed London Handball Cup is disappointing, the impressive progress made by the women’s handball side shows that nothing is impossible.
No red card for this handball
For GB handball, it was only a few years ago that they relied on TV and newspaper ads to help with player recruitment. This inexperience however doesn’t mean that they will be an afterthought during the Olympics. The Koreans proved this in historic fashion prior to hosting the 1988 summer games, as in their first Olympic handball tournaments ever they won gold and silver. A similar situation occurred in 2008 when the Chinese women managed to achieve a top eight finish. While the GB men might be in tough to achieve similar results, the women have their sights firmly set on the quarterfinals and maybe more.
Table Tennis’ richest prize awarded in London!
With $365,000 on the line, the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals held at ExCeL London awarded more prize money than any other event on the professional table tennis tour. Singles and doubles competitions, men’s and women’s youth (under-21) matches and a special “Team Great Britain vs. The World All-Stars” were all part of the action. British #1 ranked player Joanna Parker represented well by winning her match in the GB vs. All-Stars competition. Others on Team GB were not so lucky however, a result that wasn’t too surprising given that none of them have cracked the top 100 in the world rankings.
Next up: Gymnastics
The O2 Arena will host the next test event, with three Gymnastics disciplines (Artistic, Trampoline and Rhythmic) on display. Starting on January 10th, Artistic and Trampoline wil take the floor until the 13th. The event then resumes on the 16th with the Rhythmic discipline, wrapping up on the 18th. This will be the final chance for gymnasts to qualify for next summer’s games.