Big time beckons as handball displays X-factor
By Larry Ryan
If the Olympics itself is the ultimate reality TV show, Ireland’s Olympic handball administrators have devised a pretty ingenious spin-off contest this week.
And while Ireland won’t be represented when the Olympic handball tournament gets under way today, the sport seems determined not to remain for long more in the margins of Irish consciousness.
Eddie O’Sullivan’s involvement as high-performance advisor showed the IOHA was prepared to look to other sports. Now its new Talent Transfer programme has reserved two spots in the Irish squad for the upcoming European Championship qualifiers which will go to the winners of a series of auditions held for prominent Irish athletes from other sports such as rugby, Gaelic football and basketball. This week, the IOHA was busy tweeting the likes of Bernard Brogan, Paul Galvin, Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney to spread word of the talent search and maybe even tempt one or two of them onto the court. Conor Mortimer’s name is also somehow become attached.
Whoever does make it faces the ultimate deep-end plunge against Estonia and Belgium. But maybe the IOHA is onto something — after all, the man voted the best handball player of all time in 2010 — Ivano Balic of Croatia — began life as a basketball player with RK Split.
It’s good to see a minority sport not simply content to moan about its lot and instead confront and embrace reality. Turning good PR into results is the next challenge.
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