Eurosport - Sun, 04 Apr 14:49:00 2010
British Handball performance director Lorraine Brown insists the women's side can still break into the top eight at London 2012 despite slipping to their†fourth defeat of their Euro 2010 qualifying campaign against Iceland in Reykjavik.
Great Britain lost 40-20 to Iceland on Saturday following their 16-27 defeat earlier in the week at Crystal Palace to all but end their hopes of reaching the tournament being held in Norway and Denmark in December.
But in recent years the country's top players have all been sent abroad to higher quality leagues in Europe to ply their trade in an attempt to lift the quality of the national side after automatically being granted a place at 2012.
And Brown (pictured) believes that at the current rate of improvement, Great Britain should be able to compete with the top sides in the world in two and a half years' time.
"From where we started three years ago to where we are now is a huge difference and it will be another big step up between now and London 2012," she said.
"At the end of the day we are developing in every game and we set process goals and try and develop tactically.
"From our point of view in six months time we have to be looking to be beating teams like Iceland as opposed to losing by 11 or 20 goals.
"In terms of London we are looking at a top eight finish and this is very much on progress and although we are disappointed not get over 20 goals and wanted to get a little bit closer we showed that we are competitive.
"Every day the players eat and breathe Olympic Games and know that they are making the sacrifices of living away from their friends and family because they want to become the best handball player that they can possible be."
While handball is among the most popular sports on the continent, even elite level competition rarely makes it into the back pages in the UK.
And the sport receives one of the lowest amounts of funding from UK Sport compared to other Olympic disciplines with £2.99 million in the lead up to 2012.
Brown knows what a difference more funding can make but is happy with the way British Handball has adapted to its situation and is trying to make the most of its limited facilities.
"For us it is about using the money that we've got as wisely as possible and maximising that to the absolutes potential," she added.
"And trying to be creative about it and bringing in other partners who can help maybe deliver some of those things.
"If we were given lots of money then we might waste that but because we don't have very much we have to be very cautious about it and always checking if this is the right thing to be spending it on.
"If we had a little bit more money then we could bring all the girls in centrally and have a centralised programme and have a competitive environment.
"But where they are they are playing at fantastic clubs in the right environment and when they come back to us we give them the best we can give with our training camps."