Salford’s handball star Ciaran Williams has spoken of his pride of taking the opportunity to represent Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The 23-year-old playmaker – who has just returned to the UK from GB Handball Men’s summer tour – called the chance to play at the highest level as his greatest honour.
But even though he knows that this level of honour is one many people could only dream of, it does not diminish from the honour of representing his city and his club.
Williams, who also coaches, said: “I think that’s something that gets overlooked usually. It’s about Team GB and representing your country but it means a lot to me being from this area and the support I get from this area.
“All my family live here so having that support helps, so being able to go the Olympics and represent my country and my area.
“It’s the biggest honour I could ever have, on the grandest stage, but also knowing that I am representing Salford and Manchester.
“It’s nice for me because people have seen where I come from and hopefully in a year’s time, where I’ll be and that they’ve the seen the hard work that I have put in, among others.”
Williams is one of three North-West based players – including Lancashire-born Holly Lam-Moores – but admits that handball’s popularity in Manchester is unknown to its residents, despite the UK’s first club being set up in Salford.
He said: “People within Manchester are probably totally unaware about how big handball is here. Obviously within English and British handball, people are more than aware of the roots here, going back to Jeff Rowland who started the sport here and starting his first club as Salford.
Williams believes that as the Games draw closer – particularly after the test events later this year – local recognition for him and Manchester’s other Olympians will happen because of the city’s love of sport.
He said: “I don’t think there’s media coverage of all the Manchester Olympians. For example, if you asked me to name ten from Manchester, I don’t think I could.
“So maybe that’s something closer to the games that the PR machine will pick up and we will learn more about them.
“Because it’s something that Manchester can be proud of because of its sport and especially handball, which the area is a hotbed of and it’s still growing.”