Ipswich handball star Louise Jukes praises home crowd after Olympic debut

LOUISE Jukes has described the British crowd as “amazing” after Team GB made their Olympic handball bow.

Ipswich-based Jukes might have started her Olympic voyage with a defeat in the Copper Box but there was plenty of encouragement to take from their 31-19 loss to medal hopefuls Montenegro.

Dukes, who only took up the sport five years ago, tweeted: “The crowd were amazing tonight! “Thank you so much everyone for coming. The loudest crowd ever!! We did our best, they’ll be more to come!!”

Great Britain women’s handball coach Jesper Holmris conceded his side’s performance in their maiden Olympic Games encounter was tarnished by the final 10 minutes.

For the first 50 minutes of the Group A preliminary clash with the eastern Europeans, Team GB, who were only formed six years ago with the intention of competing at London 2012, more than held their own and only trailed 18-12 at the break.

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But Montenegro, tipped as dark horses for a medal at the Games, reeled off eight unanswered goals in the latter stages of the second half to put a dampener on the hosts’ landmark evening.

“Ten minutes before the end I was really pleased with our performance but then I got tired and they scored lots of fast breaks,” Holmris said. “I think it was possible to lose by only seven or eight goals, but we let it slip away in the end.

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“We have played some of the best teams in the world over the last couple of years and it was a good performance.

“But it’s obvious for everyone that we don’t have the same physique as them and we ran out of steam.

“We knew from the beginning it would be a tough competition for us and Montenegro are one of the top teams in the world so we don’t have much to lose.”

With a partisan home crowd raising the roof when they made their entrance on to the court, captain Lynn McCafferty savoured every moment.

“It felt absolutely fantastic, I have never had a feeling like that before,” she told Press Association Sport. “I want to thank everyone who came along and supported us.

“I am sure there were a lot of people who didn’t know anything about handball but they were cheering us on and it really boosted us.

“We are really looking forward to the rest of the Games now. Everyone was loving it, we have never ever had this sort of backing before.”

Despite playing tonight, Team GB took a full and active part in last night’s opening ceremony and McCafferty added: “It was absolutely amazing. I am so pleased to have the opportunity to go to the opening ceremony. It was fantastic.”

Up next for Team GB is Brazil tomorrow.

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