Gold Coast 2018 preview: Eboni Beckford-Chambers going for gold with England at Commonwealth Games
Team Bath Netball captain Eboni Beckford-Chambers believes England have the talent and tenacity to challenge for gold when the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games netball competition gets under way on Thursday.
Defender Beckford-Chambers is one of four Blue and Gold stars competing at the Games – she is joined by Kadeen Corbin in the England squad, while Chelsea Lewis and Zanele Vimbela will line up for Wales and South Africa respectively.
Host nation Australia, ranked number one in the world and the defending champions, begin the tournament as favourites to win a fourth Commonwealth crown.
New Zealand are the only other team to have reached a Commonwealth final since the sport was introduced to the programme 20 years ago, with England’s best result being bronze medals in 1998, 2006 and 2010.
Beckford-Chambers was part of that latter team but also tasted disappointment four years ago in Glasgow when England were beaten in the bronze-medal match by Jamaica.
The Roses are determined to get back on the podium this time round and, after encouraging results and performances against the likes of Australia and New Zealand in the past year, Beckford-Chambers says that confidence is high in the camp.
“Being here in Australia and finally being ready to start the Games is such an epic feeling, we just can’t wait,” she said.
“This squad, over the last six months in particular, has had some phenomenal results and it feels like we have been building towards this since the last Commonwealth Games.
“We’ve had a training camp in Sydney which was great but hard work, they really put us through our paces. Some of the girls play club netball over here in Australia, so it was about getting our connections again and making sure everyone knows what their role will be. We’re now at the Team England hotel and were so excited to see the athletes from all the other sports.”
England start their Commonwealth campaign against Scotland on Thursday (6am BST) and also face Malawi, Uganda and Wales before completing their group fixtures against New Zealand.
“The first target is to win all of the games in our pool,” said Beckford-Chambers. “We need to finish in first or second place to get into the semi-finals and it’s a tough group, so we really have to focus on the process.
“Our overall expectation is to medal and given the talent we have in this squad, hopefully we can reach the final and come away with that gold.”