Great Britain women hail 'huge leap forward' at 2012 test event
By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter
Great Britain's women's team say they took a "huge leap forward" by facing leading nations at last week's Olympic test event at Earls Court.
The GB team played world number three side Japan and 12th ranked Netherlands twice in the space of four days.
"Just to experience this arena, the Olympic venue, is absolutely amazing," said captain Lynne Beattie.
"We played two world-class teams, we did really well against them and feel really confident going into next year."
Great Britain lost all of their matches, but recently returned from a
highly successful tour in South America
, where they also performed admirably against more established nations, beating both Chile and Argentina twice.
Head coach Audrey Cooper insisted that the team, who last year had their centralised programme in Sheffield closed down after public
funding was withdrawn
, have made significant progress.
"When we knew we had no money, we asked 'What are we going to about it?' Cooper told BBC Sport.
"We said, 'You know what, we're just going to stick together and show everybody how good we actually are and how good we can be at the Games.'
"We've had a lot of doubters, but we've proved them wrong and that's down to a never-say-die attitude and also the skill level of these athletes.
GB girls talk form, fans and finance - on their return to Sheffield
"To nearly take a set off the number three team in the world must not be underestimated - last year we wouldn't have been able to do that, so it just shows the progress that we've made."
Recent months however, have certainly shown an upturn in fortunes for the team.
The tour to Peru was achieved by combining finances from company sponsorship with that attained through fund raising initiatives, such as a
Money for Matches
cycle ride, which took them from
Sheffield to London
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