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International gold medal success for NHBC sportsman

An NHBC sportsman struck international gold in August in the up-and-coming sport of Ultimate Frisbee, as part of a double success this summer.

Tom Howard, 27, coached the Great Britain U17 Women's team to the gold medal at the 2011 European Youth Ultimate Championships (EYUC) held in Wroclaw, Poland, between 8 and 13 August. He was supported with additional leave by his employer, NHBC (National House-Building Council).

Two weeks later, he captained the Great Britain Open team to 11th place out of 18 teams at the third World Beach Ultimate Championships (WCBU), held in Lignano Sabbiadoro near Venice, Italy, between 22 and 28 August. Having initially earned a quarter-final place through their on-pitch play, the GB squad was then cruelly denied by the ramifications of an administrative decision which saw the Ukraine disqualified.

Tom Howard said:

"I am extremely proud of what has been achieved this year. The girls I coach have worked extremely hard since March to get to this point, and winning the European title is a testament to their talent, which the coaching team has helped hone. We will retain many of the players next year, and definitely hope to defend our place in 2012.

"As a player, I'm disappointed not to have gone further at WCBU, especially with the ability of the team I'd picked and developed in the preceding months. Pulling out the stops and beating Canada in our last group game, one of the best teams in the world, to qualify for quarters, only to be told afterwards it didn't count for anything, was devastating. But I'm proud of the team, as complete professionals, and how they dealt with it all."

Ultimate Frisbee is a fast-flowing, non-contact sport played with a flying disc, combining elements of american football and netball. It is unique in that it is entirely self-refereed, even at international level, governed by a set of rules underpinned by the 'Spirit of the Game'. It is played seven-a-side on grass on a football pitch-sized field, and five-a-side on beach on a smaller area.

Great Britain's U20 and U17 squads are a product of a strong coaching set-up, fed by the increasing up-take of Ultimate as a P.E. option in schools. Under their coach, Tom Howard, the GB U17 women previously won gold in 2009 and bronze in 2010, reclaiming their title this year by convincingly beating Germany. They beat the U20 Polish, Czech and Irish women's teams on the route to the final as well.

At WCBU, mixed results in pool play left Great Britain Open in fourth place on wins above Austria, and in the quarter finals. Having beaten a very good Canada side in a must-win game, they were denied progression when the Ukraine were discovered to have fielded an ineligible player and disqualified from the competition. All teams that previously lost to the Ukraine were given a walk-over win, including Austria, putting them level on wins with GB and ahead of them on head-to-head results.

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News Date: 31/08/11