GB handball team set for emotional return to London Copper Box

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Mark Hawkins
Winger Mark Hawkins competed for Team GB at London 2012 and feels the lack of UK Sport funding has hampered the development of handball in Britain.

The British men's handball team are set to compete at the London Copper Box for the first time since the 2012 Olympics.

Saturday's international friendly against Ireland is the latest step of the re-launch of the national team, which had ceased to exist in 2013.

UK Sport's funding withdrawal meant GB have not been able to field teams in Olympic qualifiers and there will be no British teams at Rio 2016.

However, it is hoped a new set-up could help create teams for future Games.

The match is part of a two-day International handball tournament organised by London GD club,external-link who are based at the Copper Box.

London Olympians Steven Larsson, Chris McDermott, Mark Hawkins and Dan McMillan are included in the 12-strong select British squad,external-link which also features rising star and junior international Liam Welsby.

"It's nice to be heading back to the Copper Box, where we have such fond memories from the Olympics," said Team GB captain turned British head coach Bobby White.

UK Sport funding axe ended GB programmes

London 2012 was the first time Britain had fielded men's and women's handball teams at an Olympics.

Handball 'let down' by post-Olympic funding axe

Both teams lost all their matches and because they were unlikely to represent realistic medal prospects for Rio 2016 or Tokyo 2020, UK Sport's 'no compromise' approach to funding saw their support withdrawn.

England Handball have taken on the running of the British men's team, while Scotland Handball will look after the interests of a new-look women's setup.

The GB men recently took part in the Emerging Nations competition in Kosovo - their first fixtures since June 2013.

The women held a training camp in Denmark earlier in the year and hope to arrange their first matches since the 2012 Olympics at some point between November 2015 and March 2016.

Copper Box
The Copper Box hosted all of Team GB's handball matches at the London 2012 Olympics.

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