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Great Britain will play Olympic handball for the first time when they face world champions France on Sunday. It will be an historic occasion at the Copper Box. But, as winger Mark Hawkins of Horsham explains, the big games come later...
It will be a fantastic feeling to run out before 6,000 fans cheering us on - and a step up to what we have been used to.
We have played big games abroad in front of maybe 3,000 fans. But they weren't all on our side!
That will be a totally new thing and we are excited about it.
I remember some of the first games we played at Crystal Palace were in front of about 500 people and there was a really good atmosphere. So what will 6,000 be like?
We play every other day and at all sort of different times.
Our first game will be the feature game, at 7.30pm on Sunday against the world champions France.
We play every other day in the group stages and at different times. We have an early slot next Saturday.
But we have prepared for that sort of schedule. We had friendlies before the competition, two games with a day of rest between, to get used to that sort of rhythm.
As for the Copper Box, we trained there in April and our two friendlies are there so we know the place.
We know what we are going to be doing.
We are as well prepared as we can possibly be.
We have looked at video. We have assessed our opponents and we have our targets.
A lot of the guys we are up against are among the best in the world.
I was asked: “Who is handball's Lionel Messi or Lebron ]ames?”
There are a few guys I could mention. There's Nikola Karabatic of France, who we come up against in our opening game.
There is Mikkel Hansen of Denmark. And Olafur Stefansson from Iceland, who is playing in his last Olympics having been involved in major championships since 1993.
So it is tough but I think the schedule of the matches has fallen quite nicely for us.
The opening night against France will be our big introduction to the Olympic stage against the best team in the world.
We will get to know the crowd, they will get to know us and we will go out there with nothing to lose.
Of course we will give it everything we have got.
But our main target games come later in the competition.
Mark Hawkins was talking to Brian Owen
FIXTURES (all at Copper Box)
Sunday, July 29: GB v France 7.30pm.
Tuesday, July 31: GB v Sweden 2.30pm.
Thursday, August 2: GB v Argentina 4.15pm.
Saturday, August 4: GB v Tunisia 9.30am.
Monday, August 6: GB v Iceland 4.15pm.