By Ben Baker, Sportsbeat
MARK Hawkins’ Olympic world might be quiet right now, but the Horsham handball star has vowed to make the biggest noise of all in the capital next year.
The 25-year-old has taken a step away from the media frenzy surrounding the Olympics on home shores after moving to Icelandic side UMF Afturelding this summer, moving across Scandinavia after spending three years in Denmark with HK Aarhus Nord.
And although his side have won just once in the league this season, the former Tanbridge House School pupil is convinced it is the right move as he makes the step up to a tougher league.
London and everything that comes with it might be a long way from Hawkins geographically but he insists starring under next year’s bright lights are never far from his mind.
“I am really pleased I made the move to Iceland as I was playing in the second division in Denmark but I am playing in the top league here,” said Hawkins, who benefits from being on the Lloyds TSB Local Heroes initiative.
“Playing against better teams and better players is how you become a better player so I am confident I have made the right choice and I can see improvements already.
“The reason behind the move obviously had London 2012 in mind and the chance to further my development was too good to pass up.
“And it is nice to take a step back from all the hype surrounding the Olympics with all the milestones like two years to go, and then one.
“It’s not as if I will forget about it and I know what I have to do and I will be ready to make sure I am as best prepared as possible.”
Hawkins’ Olympic hat will well and truly be on again when he rejoins the Great British ranks for the 2013 World Championship qualifiers, with Israel up first this month.
And after the women paved the way with a narrow loss to world champions Russia, Hawkins insists the men are eager to show what they can do to.
“The women had a great performance against Russia and the pressure is on us men to put in a good result now too,” he added.
“It is great that British teams can now mix it with the best in the world and it has shown just how far we have come.
“The women’s result has given us a big boost and it is our turn now and we can’t wait to get going.”
Lloyds TSB Local Heroes, in partnership with SportsAid, provides support and funding to 344 emerging athletes all the way to London 2012 and beyond. Follow the future stars of TeamGB and ParalympicsGB at: www.lloydstsb.com/localheroes