Sara Bayman is an England international and has just finished competing in the Commonwealth Games. She has previously captained the under 21’s England team, and is the newest signing of the Netball Superleague’s Northern Thunder.
We did it!! The bronze medal is in the bag and the Commonwealth Games are now over. It definitely wasn't the medal that we came for and the overwhelming emotion at the end of the game was one of relief rather than unbridled joy. However, after losing our semi-final, this is the best result we could hope for and we're satisfied with an emphatic 70-43 result against the Jamaicans. Rather than scraping bronze we very much nailed it with a performance that sends a clear message to Australia and New Zealand that we believe we could and should have been in the final.
I'm so happy that this team is going away with something from this tournament. We have trained well throughout, put out some strong performances and genuinely had a lot of fun together. It makes it so much more special when you're winning a medal with some of your best friends rather than team-mates that you tolerate.
Prince Edward was at the medal ceremony so we got a quick snap with him. This can be added to the list of surreal experiences alongside a team talk from Kelly Holmes (who was at the game) and a VIP visit to the Taj Mahal where they basically shut half the place down to give us a personal tour.
The game itself was about as near to perfect as you get at an international level. After a team talk that left all squad members in tears (in a good way) there was a very upbeat feel in the changing room. Pamela Cookey added a little extra vigour to her usual pre-game dance and there was a spring in Sonia's step as she scored a 3 pointer in the warm-up game of basketball.
This fun and togetherness was transferred to the court. Although the Jamaicans came out strong, we were expecting this and managed to stay with them in the first quarter, heading in one goal up. From then on, it was all about us building our lead which we did quarter on quarter. There was a real confidence about the team and it never felt like Jamaica were going to get back into the match.
So, from our perspective, the bronze medal match was excellent. From a neutral perspective though, the final was probably the greatest netball match of all time. After drawing at full time, the kiwis and Aussies still couldn't be separated after extra time and it went to golden goal. With the first team to be 2 up declared the winner, you'd think someone would crumble quickly. They didn't though and it was a good ten minutes before NZ sealed the win. So well done to the Kiwis (begrudgingly).
After all the drama of the netball it was a rush to the closing ceremony and another fantastic show from the Indians. With spirits so high, we couldn't let the night go to waste so we headed to the bar in the village afterwards. Unfortunately this shut at 11.30 (I know we are rock n roll), but there was still plenty of time to throw a few shapes on the dance floor. Special mention has to go to Jason Lee, the hockey coach, who showed us that anyone can dance...kinda.
Thankfully the hockey girls got their bronze, but the boys missed out. Like Meatloaf said though, two outta three ain't bad...as long as you're not the third!
So the commonwealth games is now over, we have had our debrief and will look at improving things ultimately for the world champs in July next year, but in the short term for the World Series in Liverpool next month. This squad has been making massive progress and we want that to continue. That starts in a couple of weeks when we're back together for training. So for now, it's time to put my feet up, have a nice cup of tea and just look at that bronze medal for inspiration and motivation. Whilst I'm doing that, make sure you go and book your World Series tickets because that's going to be one hell of a show.
Great job Team England!!