London 2012 - Innes looking for test event boost
Laura Innes believes this week's Olympic test event is the perfect opportunity for the GB handball squad to ruffle some more international feathers ahead of next year's Games.
The event - called the London Handball Cup - will see Angola, China, Austria, Great Britain, Poland and Slovakia go up against one another in the 6,500-capacity Handball Arena in east London.
The women's team qualified for 2012 via their host nation status but have proved themselves to be a team on the rise with Slovakia among their recent scalps.
With GB's group a mix of the familiar (Austria) and unfamiliar (co- favourites Angola) Innes and co. will do well to progress to the knock-out stages.
However goalkeeper Innes revealed there is a quiet confidence in the GB camp as they look to turn their potential into results this week.
"I have been counting down the days before we get the chance to play at the arena for the first time. I get goose bumps just thinking about playing there," said Innes.
"Our results continue to improve every time we have take part in international competitions. We have made other teams sit up and take note and this is great momentum for us and shows that we are making progress and there is still so much potential left in the squad.
"It is a very good position to be in at this stage and we will continue to give everything to make sure that we see what we want to when the whistle blows after 60 minutes.
"To be playing in front of a large crowd at the Olympics will be like having an extra man on our side because they are very close to the court in the arena. Every new person who has come to watch a handball match is immediately excited because it is a contact sport with lots of goals and tons of action and we hope this spreads as much as possible."
Innes was a novice after swapping rugby for handball in 2007 after being told about the UK Sport's Sporting Giants campaign by her uncle.
The campaign encouraged tall athletes - women had to be 5"11 or over while men had to be 6"3 or above - to take up handball, rowing or volleyball.
And Innes maintains she was instantly hooked after trading an oval ball for a round one and admits she is counting the days until her Olympic experience kicks off.
"A home Games is something most athletes can only ever dream of and to have the possibility of getting that chance ahead of me is unbelievable," said Innes. "To have been part of it up to now makes me feel very privileged and I cannot wait for the whole country to come together and celebrate sport on such a large global stage."
"The Olympics are being used as a spring board for developing handball in Britain - it is the start of something for us not the end. It is increasingly popular in schools and we are all committed to making sure this popularity continues to rise through the Games and beyond."