Wheelchair basketball player Helen Turner confident in Team GB ability following Paralympic World Cup triumph.
WOKING wheelchair basketball player Helen Turner insists she and her Great Britain team-mates have never felt more confident on the eve of the European Championships in Israel next week.
Team GB have enjoyed a golden period, claiming gold at the Paralympic World Cup in Manchester in May, beating their chief rivals Germany in the process.
Turner and her team-mates’ record at the Europeans however has been something of a different story so far.
While there is no disgrace in a bronze medal, to have claimed six in the last seven stagings of the tournament, suggests a problem in making the step-up to the very highest level.
But with less than a year to go until the London 2012 Paralympics, Turner knows full well that now is the time to prove that they deserve to eat at the sport’s top table.
“I’m really looking forward to heading out to the Europeans, they will be a fantastic tournament and all our preparation has gone really,” she said.
“Coming into this year we have always done well away from home but struggled in Manchester so to put that right at the Paralympic World Cup was a massive boost for us.
“To beat Germany was an amazing feeling and as a team we have never felt more confident.
“But of course we are still a bit anxious as you are before every big tournament and we won’t be going in there in away way over-confident.
“We want to get gold in Israel though, we have got bronze plenty of times so now we want to make the final match and challenge for the top prize.”
The Europeans is, of course, a massive tournament in its own right but for many countries it also represents a key opportunity to seal a qualification spot for the Olympics in the capital next year.
But Turner and co already have the luxury of knowing that their spot as a host nation is secured and they can focus on ensuring they enter the tournament in the best shape possible.
“Lots of countries are going into the European knowing that they need to qualify for the Olympics which is a great motivation for them,” she added.
“Obviously we don’t need to qualify but at the same time this event is a massive stepping stone to London 2012 and we will be giving it everything that we have got.
“The best sides in Europe are there so it’s a good warm up for London and with countries like Germany that are number two in the world it will be a massive test and a chance to see how we compare to these nations.
“Everything we do now is geared towards London, it’s impossible to not be thinking about it, it’s such a massive event after all.
“It’s the pinnacle of any sportsman or woman’s career and for us to get the chance to do it will be just be amazing.”
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