Royston star to represent GB at London 2012

Georgina Bullen selected for Goalball squad for Paralympic Games this summer

ROYSTON-based goalball player Georgina Bullen was delighted after learning she will represent Great Britain at this summer’s Paralympic Games in London.

The 17-year-old will represent her country for the first time on the Paralympic stage following the British Paralympic Association’s decision last week, and she says she can’t wait to compete in front of thousands of British supporters in the capital.

“I am really pleased that everything has fallen into place,” she said. “It has taken blood, sweat and tears to get here but we are now one step closer to competing against the best teams in the world at London 2012.

“Goalball is such an exciting sport which really engages the audience. You really get to feel the adrenaline of the game as it’s fast, furious and exciting.

“I know I will have butterflies when I walk out on court but I will feel a real sense of pride to be representing ParalympicsGB. It will be amazing to have the support of the home crowd and when we competed at the Test Event there was definitely a real buzz coming from the audience.

“I hope our participation in the Games will help to raise the profile of the sport and put us in a strong position for the future.”

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Bullen is one of five athletes who will comprise the women’s Goalball team, which returns to the Paralympic fold after a 12-year absence.

The women’s team have just returned from Malmo, in Sweden, where they were competing in an international tournament featuring 14 nations. The team finished fifth, including an outstanding opening performance against Sweden, beating them 4-0.

The result against the host nation was particularly sweet given Great Britain had been beaten 2-1 by them at the London 2012 test event back in December.

Goalball GB performance director, Dawn Newbery, added: “Georgina thoroughly deserves her place in the GB Team. Over the last six months she has firmly established herself as a central player within the GB line out.”

Bullen has had to juggle A-Level studies at Hills Road School with training and did a politics exam the day before she went to the recent tournament in Sweden. And while other GB players relaxed after games she got out her textbooks for exams the days after her return.

“It was quite intense but worth it,” she added. “My college have been really good to me, letting me spread the studies over three years and being understanding when I’ve been away at tournaments.”

Goalball involves teams of three throwing a 1.25 kg bell-filled ball towards the opponent’s goal. Defenders hurl themselves full-length to block the shots and then return the shot.

The game was originally devised as a rehabilitation for visually impaired WW2 veterans but has developed into and action-packed sport relying on agility and instinct as all players where black-out shades.

“I played in the test event at the Olympic Park and it was amazing,” added Bullen.

“Teams walking out got cheered and then when we went out the noise was immense. It gave you butterflies. It was surprising how much noise the crowd made.

“I’m really excited for the first moment when we walk out into that area in our GB kit. There are some very strong teams in the tournament but we only lost 1-0 to China who are at the top so there is no reason why we cannot handle any team. We just need to get out there and give it our best.”

GB has been drawn in a pool with favourites China, Finland, Brazil and Denmark.