MARK Hawkins has seen his Olympic preparations disrupted by a broken hand.
The Horsham handball star admitted he suffered a ‘moment of panic’ straight after the injury, but expects to be fit for crucial World Championship qualifiers later this month in the run up to this year’s London Games.
The 25-year-old suffered the injury playing for his club side UMF Afturelding in the top flight of the Icelandic league at the end of November.
It meant he had to come home for Christmas earlier then scheduled for treatment, though Mark is confident the injury won’t have a bearing on the summer.
“I came back home a couple of weeks early because I broke my hand which has been pretty frustrating and means I’ve had a bit more rest then I wanted,” said the former Tanbridge House pupil.
“I was quite lucky it wasn’t too bad and I did it at the end of November so I’ll be fit for the World Championship qualifiers at the end of January.
“I did it in the tackle, I got my fingers caught and my whole hand bend the other way. There was a moment of panic not knowing how bad it was but one of my team-mates had done a similar thing and he reassured me it would only be out for four to six weeks.”
With his hand now out of plaster Mark is gearing up for a World 2013 qualifying double-header against Austria at the end of January.
Two narrow defeats against Israel in the first games means Great Britain face an uphill struggle to qualify from the three-team group, especially as Austria are rated as one of the top sides.
“We’ll have to do something pretty special to get out of the group,” Mark admitted, “But for us qualification to the Worlds was never the main goal, it’s about giving the best sides a game and getting in the best possible shape for next Summer.”
Mark says the step up from the second tier of the Danish league, where he spent three seasons, to the top league in Iceland has seen his game improve as he goes shoulder to shoulder with some of the game’s biggest names.
And as the calendar finally ticks over into the Olympic year Mark admits London 2012 is at the forefront of his mind.
He said: “It’s never far from my mind. I thought about representing GB in the Olympics when I first got into the sport four years ago and I’ve probably thought about it every day since.
“Now the clock has turned to 2012 we’re almost here, some 100 odd days before it all starts so it suddenly all feels real and exciting.”
The challenge for Team GB is to progress to the quarter-finals, which will probably mean winning at least two of their five pool matches.
The injury did mean Mark could enjoy Christmas with his family in Horsham knowing the best present he could receive is success next summer.