Layla Guscoth watched on from work last Commonwealth Games now she's on the court

·4-min read
Layla Guscoth of the Thunderbirds during the Round 11 Super Netball match between the Adelaide Thunderbirds and the Queensland Firebirds at Priceline Arena. (AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect)

Layla Guscoth was in A&E when England won netball gold in 2018.

A trained doctor, the Team Bath defender was frantically trying to watch her friends make history while on a night shift in Bath.

Sneaking looks at the score when she could, Guscoth stifled screams of joy when Helen Housby netted to give England a 52-51 victory over Australia.

Now selected as part of Jess Thirlby's squad for this summer's home Games, the 30-year-old is excited to finally get her own golden chance.

She said: "I caught the end of the game thankfully but that was about ten hours into a shift!

"Netball's one of those sports somehow that people end up having a glimpse at and then get engrossed by it so it ended up with me and a few of the nurses just sat around watching on my tiny little phone.

"I was friends and have been friends with so many of those girls so it was really amazing to see and those around me really sensed how great it was at that moment.

"I've tried to do just the netball thing and I've tried to do just the doctor thing and I find that it doesn’t work for me as well as trying to balance them together."

Taking time away from netball to focus on her medical career, Guscoth has waited a long time for her maiden Commonwealth Games.

This summer, Team England, supported by funding raised by National Lottery players, will comprise of over 400 athletes in total, and having secured her place on the squad, Guscoth is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in her home country.

She joined the Vitality Netball Superleague in 2009 with Loughborough Lightning and currently plays for 2022 Superleague third place finishers Team Bath Netball.

Over her illustrious career she racked up 26 caps for England, taking home a bronze medal at the 2019 Netball World Cup, and is now one of the leading defenders in the world.

Guscoth wouldn't change her career path for anything.

She said: "It's been a bit of a weird time. At the start of the pandemic it was all work so kind of most of my efforts just went into that and trying to work in the hospital.

"I worked in Bath and had the most supportive colleagues that you could ever imagine and they've been really good at helping me balance shifts and doing night shifts in a way that doesn't mean anything to me in way of my training.

"It was a fine line trying to get all your ducks in a row and trying to stay on top of it all.

"It is a tough job but I would now say that it compliments netball quite well. You have a really rubbish netball game and you think the world's over and then you go to work and realise that's a bit of perspective. So it works quite well.

"I would be lying if I didn’t say over the past 18 months that it hasn't been quite difficult. We do get a bit burnt out and have shifts that are really difficult but you just stay grounded in it and it's a career that I really love and really enjoy."

With the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to inspire people and communities across the country this summer, Guscoth hopes sharing her story will give others motivation to get involved in sport and turn their dreams into reality.

Birmingham born and bred, Guscoth is excited for her city to reap the benefits of a home Games, growing the sport of netball even further.

She said: "Netball's had such a massive resurgence in the past couple of years and I think that having a home Commonwealth Games is an amazing way to continue to grow the sport and it's really good for us personally having our friends and family there.

"We've spoken about [being defending Champions] but we've not obsessed about it at all because I think that it doesn’t make much difference going into it.

"Every tournament we go into we want to win and that's no different. Our focus is about making this our campaign and trying to do the best we can.

"Where the athletics is now is where I used to do my running sessions when I was younger.

"You go all around that town and have a lot of moments that you can reflect on, in childhood but also in our netball careers so it's an amazing opportunity.

"To see what it's done for Birmingham as well, going around town and seeing some of the redevelopment that's happened, so I'm hoping that it will be a really good Games."

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