Olympic Dreams: Ben Pipes targets volleyball medal
Volleyball captain Ben Pipes believes his team can create history at London 2012 by claiming Great Britain's first ever Olympic medal in the sport.
The 24-year-old, from Cottingham, near Hull, has been at the heart of Team GB's development from no hopers to potential Olympic contenders.
Great Britain has failed to make an impression on the sport since it was introduced at the Tokyo games in 1964.
And the team's preparations for next summer have not been helped by a budget cut for governing body British Volleyball.
For the Beijing Olympics in 2008 the organisation had £4.3m at its disposal. That was cut to £2.2m in October last year.
Nevertheless Pipes remains optimistic about his team's chances.
"I don't think you can quantify what it means to an athlete to be an Olympian, let alone an Olympian in his home nation," he said.
Olympic volleyball facts
- Earls Court is the venue for volleyball at London 2012.
- Twelve teams will play in both the men's and women's competition.
- The teams will be divided into two pools of six with the best eight going through to the knockout phase.
"I think we'll be a a team to compete with in the Olympics, with a view of making a semi-final."
Pipes is 6ft 8in tall and plays in the key position of "setter." The setter is responsible for deciding where the members of the six-man team line up and how they are going to serve and receive the ball.
He has spent the season playing as a professional in the Netherlands helping his club, Langhenkel Doetinchem, to fourth in the Dutch A League and to a runners-up place in a cup competition.
Not bad for a lad who took up the sport after a taster session at a community sports centre in Hull.
He said: "I sort of fell into volleyball. I think my height sort of helped me with that.
"I was jack of all trades when I was young and volleyball came up one weekend so I went with it and kept going since then."