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She's got the world in her hands

PUBLISHED: 20:40 21 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 24 August 2010

By Ian Cooper WHEN Emmalina Thompsell heads to the World Handball Championships next month, it won t just be the hopes of the current crop of England stars that will inspire her towards success. Thompsell, from Hammersmith, was selected to represent Engla

By Ian Cooper

WHEN Emmalina Thompsell heads to the World Handball Championships next month, it won't just be the hopes of the current crop of England stars that will inspire her towards success.

Thompsell, from Hammersmith, was selected to represent England at the hugely popular nine-day tournament in Oregon, USA from October 3-11, and will also take on the world's best in the singles and doubles tournaments.

With the target of helping England continue their remarkable rise up the rankings, from 19th to sixth in the two-and-a-half years since they took up the game, Thompsell and her team-mates will battle against more than 1,000 competitors as they aim to break into the top five.

And Cambridge University student Thompsell believes the championships can be the driving force to establish handball among the capital's schools, and inspire the next crop of youngsters to take up the game.

"This is my biggest achievement so far, but at the same time there's a lot of pressure. You never want to let your partner or your team-mates down, but I think that helps to motivate me as well," said Thompsell, who at 22, is the youngest member of the squad.

"I'm definitely a lot better at the doubles than in the singles, so on a personal level that's where I'm hoping to do well.

"As far as the team is concerned, we do a lot of work towards trying to get handball into schools. That's one of our aims, to help inspire more kids to get into the sport."

Thompsell also represents her university in lacrosse and Eton Fives, but has enjoyed most success in handball - which is played by hitting the ball with the hand against a wall within a marked court - and broke into the England side two years ago.

She came second in the group stages at the Irish Nationals, and won a bronze medal at last year's British Open ladies' doubles.

Despite the ease with which handball can be played - 500 children in the UK were involved in the sport last year - Thompsell admits it remains largely on the sidelines in the UK.

"It should be played in every school, it's so simple and needs no infrastructure," said Thompsell, who has coached beginner sessions on Sunday mornings at Westway Sports Centre. "All you really need is a ball, wall and an open space.

"It's a bit like squash in that respect. It's all very well playing football and rugby, but in somewhere like inner London you don't always have the opportunity to play handball, that's what we need to change.


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