Louise Jukes aims to be fit as Olympic preparations step up

Ipswich Olympic hopeful Louise Jukes hopes to return to full training in a couple of days after she underwent a scan on a back injury on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old looks set to be part of the Great Britain squad for the London Games but has been out of action for the last fortnight, having returned from a training camp in France where she featured in two close defeats against Angola.

Jukes scored seven times in the two games against the African champions as Team GB went down 26-22 and 27-24 and will hope to continue her goalscoring form in further warm-up games later this week, against a professional team from Norway, at the handball arena – a venue now known, controversially, as ‘The Copper Box’.

“I have just had a scan on my back and hopefully I will be back fit in a couple of days,” said Jukes, speaking on Tuesday.

“I have been out for the last couple of weeks after waking up with leg and back pain.

“It has taken a bit of time because our doctors are volunteers so we don’t get the same amount of medical care as other people might.

“But there is a long way to go and injuries are going to happen, I just hope that I stay injury-free.”

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Should Jukes be selected for London 2012 she will become part of history as GB enter their first Olympics, following their formation in 2007.

Their aim, as an improving nation, is to qualify for the quarter-finals and Jukes believes the two recent games against Angola, plus their victory over the same country in London, at November’s test event, will act as good preparation ahead of the event.

“We played Angola, who had just finished eighth at the World Championships in December, and we ran them close in both games which I think shows that we can compete with the best nations in the world,” said the defender.

“Although we lost both games in France, it clearly showed that we are improving and in three games against them now we have beaten them once and lost narrowly to them twice.

“There may be changes to the current squad because of injury and the progress of other players, and the team is selected a month before the Games, so it is going to be a nerve-racking time.

“It has still not sunk in that I could be potentially playing at the Olympics in August and I don’t think it will until I have got my kit and have walked into the park.

“But there are no guarantees and I don’t want to look far ahead. I am taking one day at a time.”

Meanwhile, Jukes has backed British Handball’s decision to launch a campaign, which if successful, would see ‘The Copper Box’ revert to the ‘Handball Arena’.

Britain’s male and female handball teams will play there but the venue, renamed by the London Olympics Organising Committee (LOCOG), will also be used for goalball and modern pentathlon fencing at London 2012, before being transformed into a multi-use community sports centre.

“We don’t like that name because we think it should be called the Handball Arena,” said Jukes,

“That way, handball gets a mention and we want it to be used for handball.

“They have not renamed many other venues and hopefully they will have a re-think.”

A LOCOG spokesman revealed the reasoning behind the name change: “To avoid any confusion with spectators during the Games we have created a name which reflects the venue’s iconic boxed-shape and distinct copper cladding rather than name it after a single sport.”

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