A UNIVERSITY of Worcester student has called her selection to represent her country at the Commonwealth Games ‘the fulfilment of a lifelong dream’.
Jodie Gibson, who is in the third year of a Sports Studies degree, is part of the England Roses netball team heading to the Gold Coast, in Australia, for the Games in April.
“When I found out the news I was really excited. I cried a lot; there were a lot of happy tears,” said the 25-year-old, of Lower Wick, who also plays for Severn Stars, a franchise between the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to go to the Commonwealth Games. Netball isn’t an Olympic sport so the Commonwealth Games is one of the only major competitions that netball gets to compete in.
“I remember watching netball at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002 and seeing those girls and thinking this would be a dream come true. When I was younger I never thought it would be something I could aspire to and achieve, so it makes me so proud to have that opportunity to not only go to the Commonwealth Games but to represent England and make my family and friends proud.”
Having always been athletic, Jodie, who grew up in Bury, Manchester, took up netball at primary school and was scouted during a match by another school’s PE teacher, who invited her to join a local club.
“I tried every single sport and never fell in love with it until I started netball,” she said. “I knew it was the sport for me because I took all my friends and said ‘okay we’re going to play netball’ and each week someone would drop out and I thought ‘okay I’m still going to do this sport’ and I’m so glad I stuck to my guns. I have had so many opportunities from playing this sport.”
Jodie said that combining elite sport with her studies had been made easier by the support she had from the University and its staff.
She will head out to Australia in March before the Games start on April 4, with the England Roses beginning their campaign the following day.
“What I’m most looking forward to is being in that environment,” she added. “Being in an environment where there are so many other role models and athletes that I have always looked up to and aspired to be like is going to be an amazing experience.”
Jodie said the England team had had a good year playing against some of the best teams in the world, particularly in the recent Quad Series where they came second, beating South Africa and New Zealand.
“The recent results we have going into the Games should hold us in good stead and we have to go for gold,” she said.
“We have an amazing squad and I think we all have the belief that we can go to the Games and win gold.”