London 2012 Olympics: Jo Morgan hopes to spice up volleyball in British eyes

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Joanne Morgan of the Womens GB Volleyball team poses for a photograph during the Team GB Volleyball Athletes Announcement For London 2012 Olympic Games at the English Institute of Sport on June 29, 2012 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Joanne Morgan of the Womens GB Volleyball team poses for a photograph during the Team GB Volleyball Athletes Announcement For London 2012 Olympic Games at the English Institute of Sport on June 29, 2012 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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JO MORGAN is setting her sights high as she prepares to make her volleyball debut at the London 2012 Olympics.

Capital star Morgan joins captain Lynne Beattie as one of two Scots in the team, which is breaking new ground by appearing at the Games for the first time.

Great Britain open their 
campaign against Russia, who won the recent Olympic 
qualifying tournament without losing a match, tomorrow.

They then face further group games against Algeria, World Cup winners Italy, the Dominican Republic, who beat three-time Olympic champions Cuba to earn their place, and Japan.

“We’re under no illusions that it’s going to be very tough, we’re underdogs for every game and all the world’s very best players are here,” said Morgan. “But we aren’t daunted about the challenge, we’re just excited and really looking forward to getting started.

“Our goal is to reach the quarter-finals. It’s going to be a fight but I don’t see why we can’t do it – we’ve got as good a chance as everybody else. We’ve realistically got to win two matches and that’s the aim. To qualify would be a phenomenal achievement for a team formed six years ago. We’re confident.”

Morgan has put her career in civil engineering on hold to prepare for these Games and admits she can’t quite believe a journey that started with East Lothian Falcons has ended at the world’s biggest sporting event.

In a towering team of six footers, the 28-year old is diminutive in stature – just 5ft 7ins – but believes her speed around the court makes up for her lack of height.

“It’s been a very long journey and, at times, it maybe seemed a long way off, so it’s strange to be so close,” she added. “Even a few weeks ago, the Games seemed ages away but it’s a quite real now. I’m not nervous, just excited, it’s been five or six years and the waiting is finally over.”

Morgan’s parents are travelling down from Edinburgh to watch every match, pitching their tent outside London and jumping on the train to Stratford every time she competes.

“Volleyball hasn’t always 
received funding so without the support of my parents I would never have made it here,” she added. “It’s great to reward them and I hope to make them proud.

“I also hope this is the start of a new story for British volleyball so future players don’t have to rely so much on their family.

“The impact of Team GB volleyball at the Olympics will help realise how great a sport it is because it’s not very popular in Britain at all. If we can achieve some success hopefully that will get more people playing and more money flowing into the sport.”

n Bank of Scotland, proud supporter of Team GB and proud partner of the London 2012 
Olympic Games. Get closer to the Games at bankofscotland.co.uk/London2012