Kieran aims for Olympics

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AN Olympic volleyball hopeful is gearing up for the London 2012 games after facing some of the elite internationals.

Former Brighouse High school student Kieran O’Malley has experienced a taste of what is to come after competing in the Olympic test event at Earls Court.

“It was our chance to play against teams who are top of the world rankings,” said the 23-year-old.

The Great Britain men’s team was up against reigning Olympic gold medalists, USA, together with the world number one Brazil, Serbia (5th), Egypt (14th), and Mexico who are 21st.

The GB team, underdogs with a world ranking of 94, stepped up to the occasion, triumphing over both Eygpt and Mexico.

“It was always going to be difficult playing the calibre of teams that we did. It was the first time that we had ever had the chance to play against them, so I think it was a great opportunity to get over the apprehension that comes with playing on that stage for the first time.

“Playing against the USA and Brazil, the last Olympic finalists, was amazing.”

The experience of playing on the Olympic court has been extremely valuable and will be an advantage when the time comes to step out in front of the home crowd in London.

“To me it has become more of a mental thing. I don’t get nervous anymore and I feel more sure of myself. I am a much more positive player now.”

Kieran, who plays as a setter for the team, had more than one reason to celebrate playing at the Olympic venue – he made his 100th appearance for Great Britain when they played against the USA.

He only took up volleyball seriously seven years ago when a knee injury halted a promising football career. He played for West Yorkshire club Boathouse and then for Sheffield VC.

Kieran also returned to his former high school in February to offer coaching sessions to the youngsters.