A bronze medal finish for the UK ladies team at the recent world championships in Taiwan has seen the side build on their third-place finish at last years European championships and rise to third in the World.
The side beat Hong Kong in the third-place play-off to take home the bronze medal, with wins against Macau and Taiwan B in the group stage.
The tournament nearly finished early as Taiwan was hit by the World’s biggest storm of 2015, Typhoon Soudelor. Despite being an indoor sport, all games were called off on the third day, with players forced in to their hotels resulting in a hectic schedule planned for the final day to catch up.
Many months spent on strength and conditioning work paid off the for the UK ladies as they defeated Hong Kong in the play-off, despite having previously lost to the side in the round-robin league stage.
In the women’s final Taiwan retained the title, defeating Singapore.
Performance director Janine Lesiak, who was also part of the ladies squad, said:
“We are absolutely delighted with this continued success, building from the European Championships last year. It shows how good the leadership is from player coach Hannah Norman; her vision is key.” Lesiak pointed to the speed of the UK’s attack and an ability to adapt to different styles of play as the vital to the side’s success.
In the men’s tournament Taiwan again finished on top, with Singapore again in second place. Placed alongside both Taiwan and Singapore in Group A, the UK men displayed vast improvements from the year before, losing to Singapore by just three points. In the end they finished fourth in the group, earning a joint seventh finish. However winners of the other group Italy, who finished third overall, were comfortably beaten by Singapore in the semi-final. Player coach Stuart Blakemore said:
“We went into the tournament with mediocre expectations and ended up having really competitive matches against the best teams in the world, which we weren’t expecting. To come fourth in the group which included the top three in the world and in which we were ranked sixth is a real achievement.”
With the European Championships in the Czech Republic next year the focus is on how both sides can improve even further, for ETC 2016 and future tournaments.
“We need to continue to work on the younger generation, working with the young players we’ve got now and giving them lots of opportunities to compete against other teams,” said Lesiak. Trials for the UK squads begin on Sunday, September 13, in Bedford. Players must register and pay the trial fee by September 12, to take part. See the Tchoukball UK website for more details or contact [email protected].