SIX years ago, the odds of Dorota Basta representing Great Britain in sport would have been pretty slim with the Polish-born girl still living in her native country.
But fast forward half a decade and the now Leeds-based star has very real prospects of being in the GB handball team come London 2012.
Basta, who now works for Johnston Press in Wellington Street, has been selected as part of the GB handball squad which is being centralised in London prior to the Games – the squad set to be whittled down from 21 to just 14 for the big event next summer.
But regardless of whether or not Basta makes the cut, it has been an extraordinary development for the Pole who only six years ago lived in her home country and, indeed, represented it in the sport at under-16s level.
Compared to the UK, handball is big business in Poland where Basta was paid to play the sport. it is still to take off in this country, even though it is growing in popularity.
But that has failed to stop Basta’s progress in the sport – the Leeds-based girl is now captain of the Leeds Carnegie women’s team and thrilled at her potential Olympic call.
“It is just an unbelievable chance”, said Basta, who moved to England in May 2005.
“I never thought when I moved here that I could be competing in the Olympics.
“In Poland I got paid for playing, but in the UK I have to pay to train.
“As well as this, I have to travel large distances and even have to help to run the club.
“But playing handball when I arrived in the UK gave me so many wonderful opportunities and allowed me to meet so many fantastic people.
“It was hard at times, but my love and determination for the sport were strong enough to overcome certain circumstances.”
Basta, born in Nowy Sacz near Kracow, took up the sport as an 11-year-old in Poland and since then has gone from strength to strength, though with handball not exactly a leading light in the UK, the newly-adopted Yorkshire girl admits that it can be a struggle to make ends meet – especially when commuting to London.
Nevertheless, the Leeds star feels that, slowly but surely, the UK is beginning to warm to handball.
“At the minute I’m currently looking for a sponsor to help me with my living costs whilst in London,” said Basta, nicknamed “Dotti” by her friends.
“Any support would be a big help.
“But the sport is definitely growing in the UK. Seven years ago no one had heard of it and now we are entering a team in the Olympics, it’s just fantastic.
“It is making more people aware of the sport and offering them the chance to play it.
“It has grown much quicker than I thought it would.”
Success in London next year would see the popularity of the sport multiply and even after the 2012 Games, handball is very much part of Basta’s plans.
“When I have finished playing I definitely want to become a coach and help young people to play the sport so that I can give something back,” she said.
“Young people are already getting involved and showing an interest in handball.
“The Olympics is going to make it even better.”