Soulbury handball hero Sam Hurley-Cook has vowed to do ‘everything in his power’ to force his way into the international setup and propel Britain onto the Olympic stage.
Hurley-Cook, 18, has already made a significant impression on the national handball scene and this season earned himself a senior call-up to Premier Handball League side Nottingham.
Growing up in the small village of Soulbury, Buckinghamshire, Hurley-Cook first emerged himself in the sport during his time at Aylesbury Grammar School, with his love for handball first blossoming through his participation in school competitions.
After gaining a wealth of experience playing at both club and regional level, the teenage ace is now teetering on becoming a regular fixture for his top-flight side, who placed third in the table last season.
And with a potential national call-up now not far away, Hurley-Cook has set his sights on catapulting the British squad towards the bright Olympic lights in the future.
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“For the future, I’ve got to keep working on myself,” he said.
“First and foremost, I need to maintain a spot in the GB squad, and then progress into the men’s side.
“It depends on if we qualify for the Olympics but I’m going to do everything in my power to try and help us get there. That’ll be the biggest ambition.”
In his rise to the elite level of handball, Hurley-Cook has not been short of inspiration, as he detailed his sporting idols, both within his specialist sport and outside of it.
“Handball-wise, I really love a player called Alex Dujshebaev,” he said. “Watching his highlights, he’s absolutely crazy.
“Watching him and not even being able to replicate him because he’s just on a completely different level.
“It’s nice seeing someone take a sport so far and do things that no one else can do is really inspiring.
He continued: “Outside of handball, I’d say Ray Lewis, the old [Baltimore] Ravens line-backer in American Football, mainly because of his work ethic.
“Hearing his story about how he came up and grew up in a broken household and turned it into becoming arguably the greatest line-backer the NFL has ever seen, being able to pretty much lead the team himself is really inspiring.
“It gives you lessons on how you can be a great leader.”
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Hurley-Cook is also among a select group of Britain’s most promising young athletes to be supported by a partnership between Entain – owner of Ladbrokes and Coral – and charity SportsAid.
And he added: “It has probably been the biggest help I’ve had.
“As part of my handball, I had to do a programme where I studied away from home and I lived away from home in Loughborough, and the funding helped me so much with travel, my accommodation, supplying kit for myself, buying food so I can eat, buying laundry detergent so I can wash my clothes.
“Every aspect of my life has been helped hugely, and it’s meant as an athlete and as a young person growing up in the world, I’ve been able to do the things I want to do at the highest level possible.”
Entain, owner of Ladbrokes and Coral, is proud to be championing the next generation of British sporting heroes by providing talented young athletes with financial support and personal development opportunities in partnership with SportsAid. Visit entaingroup.com to find out more