June 19 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Former water boy heading to Olympics
Dan Clark completed a remarkable journey from water boy to Olympian when he was officially named in the GB men’s basketball squad.
Clark helped out on the sidelines for the Greater London Leopards, when dad Mark was assistant coach, as they won back-to-back BBL titles in 1997 and 1998, and a National Cup in the first of those two years.
And having collected three winners medals before even leaving junior school, Clark has happy memories of his time with the Big Cats.
He said: “I remember shooting around with the players before practice. They were a great team in those days.
“John White and Eric [Burks] always looked after me as did Tim Davis, but John and Eric were the main two I remember.”
Clark started his senior basketball career early, making his debut for Ware Rebels in EBL Division One at the age of 13 in 2002.
He also played for the club’s under-14, under-16 and under-18 teams before the Rebels merged with a Leopards Alive supporters group to form the Essex & Herts Leopards.
Clark moved to join Spanish club Estudiantes where he has spent the last ten years and is expected to remain for the 2012/13 season.
But he believes the experience he gained with the Rebels helped him in Spain, adding: “I was 13 and it was just before I went to Spain. It was tough physically as I was playing against men and I was just a scrawny kid.
“It was good fun, and it definitely helped me perform and learn. It meant I was a bit more ready when I started in Madrid.”
Having represented England at all junior levels and GB at under-20, Clark stepped up to the GB senior squad in 2009 in the build-up to their EuroBasket campaign in Poland.
The youngest member of the squad at that time, he became a regular in the starting line-up the following year and in the 2011 EuroBasket finals in Lithuania averaged 8.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
Clark led the scoring for GB in their Olympic warm-up game against Russia in Houston and has played in all seven games this summer to bring his total number of caps to 43.
He is now looking forward to stepping out during the Games and said: “It’ll be an amazing honour, it doesn’t get any bigger than this in our sport. It’s what you dream about when you’re young.
“It’s an amazing feeling and it’s really satisfying to have made the squad. I didn’t think I’d ever have the chance to do this.
“We need to aim as high as possible. As soon as we starting thinking about winning that game or this game, it’s when you start to struggle.
“Getting to the quarter-finals would be great, I was born just around the corner so it’s truly home court advantage.
“I know London a bit. I know Madrid inside out, but London still has places I need to see and get some knowledge. I still hang out in the Chingford area when I am back, but I don’t do anything too strenuous.”
Leopards GM Dave Ryan added: “Everyone at Leopards is really excited to see Dan at the Olympics. It seems a long time ago that he was handing out the drinks to our title winning sides, but he’s done incredibly well to become an important member of the GB team.
“Some of the players have tried to pick and choose when they play for GB, but Dan’s worked hard and it’ll be great to see him at the Olympics. I was proud of him when I saw him make his GB debut at the O2 three years ago and it’ll be fantastic to see him at London in a couple of weeks.”