Jaimo named in GB squad for Winter Olympics showdown

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MILTON Keynes ice hockey player Leigh Jamieson is part of a 32-man preliminary squad named ahead of Great Britain’s bid to reach the 2014 Winter Olympics next month.

The 27-year-old forward scored one goal and played a part in all three matches when GB won a four-team preliminary qualifying tournament in Japan at the end of last year.

That booked them a place in February’s final qualification round, with GB set to fly to Latvia to take on the host nation, France and Kazakhstan for the right to compete at Sochi 2014.

The squad will meet for a training camp in Manchester later this month before GB coach Tony Hand names his final 22-man squad ahead of the team flying to Riga on February 6.

Lightning star Jamieson is one of just five English Premier League players named in the 32-man preliminary squad, with the majority coming from the Elite League.

He was only on standby for the squad to fly to Japan for the preliminary tournament in November, but after another player was injured, Jamieson went on to play a leading role in GB’s success and scored in their win over Romania. That came after a defeat to South Korea, leading to a winner takes all clash with the host nation.

Britain, who were Olympic champions in 1936 and bronze medallists in 1924, last competed at the Games in 1948, meaning the showdown with Japan was billed as the team’s biggest game in 76 years. It couldn’t have gone any better as GB held on to win 2-1 to reach the final qualification round.

GB, ranked 21st in the world, will now travel to Latvia hoping to complete a quite remarkable story. Standing in their way are the hosts, ranked 11th, France, ranked 14th, and 17th-ranked Kazakhstan.

Three teams will earn berths for the Olympics through the qualifying events – also being held in Germany and Denmark – and will join the top nine nations in the world rankings for the Games in Russia in February 2014.