BOBBY White has put his life on hold for London 2012, but the city handball player insists that it will all be worth it if he helps spark a national love affair with the sport.
With London Olympic qualification his number one priority this year, the 27-year-old has seen relationships fall by the wayside with his international jet-setting lifestyle to get to 2012 partly to blame.
In order to aid his qualification bid, White has been playing his handball on the continent – a decision that was vindicated earlier this year when the British squad were confirmed a host nation place.
And now with the Games less than 500 days away, White believes that he and the GB team can go a long way to enhancing the sport’s reputation on home soil next summer.
“The hope is that handball takes off in this country after the Games,” said the former Newport Pagnell Town FC player. “Speaking as an ex-footballer it is clear that football really does have a stranglehold on the youth.
“Every kid wants to play football and become a pro footballer, but it would be fantastic to have a real handball legacy in the UK. Regardless of how we do at London 2012, we’ll have failed if we do not have a post-Olympic legacy for the sport.”
White switched to handball back in 2007 after attending a talent camp, and it didn’t take him very long to make an impression. He and seven others were selected from 2,500 athletes to form the GB squad with the aim of being very competitive in London. And with the tickets now on sale, White admits his switch is proving popular with friends and family, even if it came at a cost.
“Going abroad has brought plenty of ups and a lot of downs for me. I’ve been to Austria, Denmark and Greece,” said the former Stantonbury Campus pupil who plays as a goalkeeper.
“They all have different styles of handball and so it’s great to be able to have that challenge and test yourself against some quality players on the continent. But then on the down side you do have to make sacrifices and you do miss your friends and your family.
“I’ve split up with my girlfriend of over six years because of the handball situation, but then I knew that sort of thing could happen.
“I’m not getting any younger and by the time London 2012 finishes I will be 29, and I would like to have started a family and things like that, but then this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”