Meet the women's goalball team
Great Britain will field a team in the women's goalball competition for the first time since the 2000 Paralympics. A young GB side will get the women's competition under way on 30 August when they take on world champions China.
And from the sounds of it, the Chinese will not know what hit them. Having been picked for London 2012, teenager Georgina Bullen runs us through the five-strong women’s goalball team.
Jessica Luke, 24
Although she’s quiet Jess is a real leader and the backbone of the team. As part of the squad that won the European Championships, she’s a legend in goalball and the rest of us look to her for inspiration. She mothered me on court when I first joined the team, which gave me a lot of confidence. When she’s not playing she’s into Noel Fielding and The Mighty Boosh, and she has quite a quirky sense of humour.
She can handle banter, but she doesn’t lark around too much. Her only weakness is her addiction to chocolate. She used to have a bar a day, but now she gets a slap on the wrist and the nutritionist has been trying to get her onto treats with less chocolate in, like Turkish delight. We all have sweet cravings too so we’re just glad we haven’t been spotted. She’s our decoy!
Amy Ottaway, 18
The newest member of the team is lovely and a bit of a flirt. She’s a girlie girl and you can always recognise her giggle. She’s really sweet and eager to learn, and she’s nice to share a room with as she’ll always offer you the double bed. I try not to take it every time! She’s got a really sweet guide dog, Abba, who we all want to steal. Abba’s a mischievous mutt, and when you see her dragging Amy along you wonder who’s taking who for a walk!
Amy’s worst – and most expensive – habit is that she loses stuff. She’s left her iPad in a hotel lobby before, and we've lost count of all the speakers and iPhones she's left behind. We rarely go away without one of her possessions going astray, but the most terrifying is when it’s a passport. Amy’s quite flat-footed so she gets a bit of stick for being a Nelly The Elephant when she runs. We can hear her coming from miles away!
Anna Sharkey, 24
Anna is one of the wingers and she’s so unbelievably strong. She’s shorter than me but she can easily do a few press ups with me lying on her back, it’s incredible. Off court she’s the loveliest girl, she never says anything bad about anyone. The only time that’s annoying is if we’re having a bitch about something but she’s sitting on the fence being too lovely and not getting involved.
On court, however, she becomes a bit of a demon. It’s like every single ounce of her aggression goes into the game. I remember during warm-ups sometimes we’d have to wrestle each other and I’d be dreading it because she’s so powerful. She even dribbled on me once because she was so into it! But she’s a brilliant person to have on your team.
Louise Simpson, 28
Lou’s the oldest member of the team and she’s been playing goalball for 14 years, since I was just two years old (although she probably doesn’t like me bringing that up!). When she’s playing her best nothing can get past her. Off court, depending on what mood Lou’s in, she’ll either keep herself to herself or be the life and soul of the party, every day is different.
She’s completely blind and can seem really shy around strangers, but she’s the best supporter to have because she’ll be the loudest person in the whole audience, even if she’s really quiet the rest of the time! When you get to know her she makes these really weird noises, like a teapot noise or something. That’s when you know you’ve made her laugh. It’s like she goes to chuckle but she’ll squeak instead!
Georgina Bullen, 18
I play the centre position and I chat all the time on court. We have code words for certain moves to make sure the opposition don’t know what we’re saying, so I’ll be sat there talking complete gibberish. I’ll shout tactics and encouragement, and it helps that our wingers can run around me and know where to come back to.
It’s an added bonus if my chatter aggravates the opposition. The weirdest thing I ever said was, “Come on girls let’s scissor it!” and sometimes I’ll shout random cooking instructions, or whatever pops into my head. I’ve had referees come up and ask if I got paid per word – if I did I’d be rich!
Off-court I’m very messy, and my hotel room is always an explosion of clothes. I’m not a morning person so I keep to myself at breakfast. No one wants to poke me because they know they’ll get a growl back! But once I wake up I can be a bit of a joker, like when I creep up and give Louise a nice sweaty post-training hug. And I get into fights with the boys, which makes training more fun!
Content courtesey of Channel 4. Find out more about Goalball on the Channel 4 Paralympics website.