VOLLEYBALL star Lynne Beattie watched in awe as the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona unfolded – and now she is playing in the country that first gave her the sporting bug.
The 25-year-old from Eaglesham is in sunny Spain plying her trade ahead of next year’s Olympic Games in London.
And it marks her fourth move across Europe in as many years, following spells in Slovenia, Germany and Italy.
But the Team GB captain has her sights firmly set on British soil with London 2012 just over 260 days away.
As the host nation, their participation in next year’s showpiece is already guaranteed. However, Lynne has taken to Gran Canaria to play for CV Las Palmas in a bid to be as sharp as possible for the Games.
And she is delighted to be playing in the country that first inspired her to be a sportswoman.
Lynne told the News: “Since the age of seven I have always dreamed about being an Olympian.
“My earliest memory of an Olympic Games was Barcelona in 1992 and it was then that I knew I wanted to compete at an Olympic Games.
“So to be out in Spain playing now and being just months away from living my dream, it is an incredible feeling.
“Not only do I have the opportunity to compete at an Olympic Games but it is a chance to compete on home soil, as captain of the Great Britain Team – it doesn't get much better than that.
“But there is still a lot of work to be done between now and July 2012 to ensure that I am best prepared and able to make the most of the opportunity.
“As a team, GB have worked so hard over the last five years because we have had to fast track to the level required to compete at an Olympic Games against the best in the world.
“We are now at that level, able to compete with these teams, but we want wins.
“These final months are all about the fine-tuning required as individuals and as a team to make sure we are the best we can be at London 2012.
“We are not just going to the Olympic Games to get the t-shirt, we are going to win.
“We want to show the world that we deserve our host nation spot and that we are a team to be reckoned with in the world of volleyball.”
Lynne’s dedication to the sport has seen her spend most of the last few years far from home.
In 2008 she joined Slovenian side Calcit Kamnik and helped them to the national championships before moving to Italian side Cedat 85 Volley San Vito in late 2010 for an eight-month stint.
At the start of this year, Lynne moved to Hamburg and she is now preparing for the start of the volleyball season in Spain next month as she bids to be at the top of her game for 2012.
“It’s obviously a very important year for me so I have to ensure that I do everything in my power to become as good as possible for next summer,” said Lynne.
“For this to happen, I had to make sure that I found a good team where I would be playing at a level that would challenge me every week, but also somewhere that I would be a key player in the team.
“I have always wanted to play in the Spanish Superliga A1. The level of volleyball is very high, and the speed of the game suits me.
“So after I pushed my agent to try to find me a team in this league, CV Las Palmas showed a lot of interest and I made the decision to play here.
“I’m really enjoying it and it is the challenge I was looking for.
“Every year I have played somewhere new and I have learned that it can take a few weeks to get used to the different cultures and team procedures, but I have settled in well out here and have a great feeling going into the season ahead.
“I am 100 per cent committed to doing anything I can to become a better volleyball player and if this means searching for it in another country then that is what I will do.
“But it also broadens the experience when you are able to play with different players, in different team systems and learn from different coaches.
“Of course, it is difficult when you are away from home for so long, but the support of family and friends, and my fellow Great Britain team-mates helps me along the way.
“They know how big an opportunity it is for me and they will do anything they can to support me.
“It is not a life I can have forever, so for now I am just working hard at it, but enjoying it at the same time.”
However, it’s not been all fun and games for Lynne, even as she basks in the sunshine in Gran Canaria.
In September 2010, due to the current economic conditions, volleyball lost all of its UKSport Lottery funding.
And Lynne and her team-mates have found it difficult to raise cash to fund their training ahead of 2012.
Indeed, with the Games approaching she is still in need of financial support to see her to London.
Lynne explained: “The funding cuts mean we have been left with no money to prepare for the biggest moment in not only our careers, but our lives.
“There is no use in complaining about it. The decision cannot be changed.
“The only thing we can do is look for solutions and this is why we have currently got many fundraising initiatives on the go in order to raise the money to allow us to prepare in the best possible way for next summer.
“It will ensure that we can afford to play as many top level teams as possible prior to the games in preparation and it will also allow us to have the support staff – including physiotherapists, sport psychologists, nutritionists, and strength and conditioning coaches – required to make sure we go to the Games healthy and ready for action.
“But we are also in search for individual sponsors of players, to help us on our individual journeys to the Olympics. It will help us cover costs of kit, travel and food, to lower the burden of living with a very low income.
“We do not get paid to play for Great Britain, nor do we wish to be.
“Playing for your country is an honour but if we can, somehow, get support to help us along the way then this will play a huge part in our success.”
To support Lynne and Team GB’s Volleyball squad visit www.gbwomensvolleyball.co.uk for more information.