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Keigh­ley-born Haythorn­th­waite in state of shock af­ter Eng­land’s net­ball win

NATALIE HAYTHORN­TH­WAITE watched her beloved Roses fi­nally bloom and now wants world suc­cess to match Com­mon­wealth Games gold.

Keigh­ley-born Haythorn­th­waite played a key role in club side Wasps net­ball Su­per League suc­cess and has made a dra­matic grad­u­a­tion to the in­ter­na­tional stage on the Gold Coast.

And the 25-year old was in a state of shock af­ter re­ceiv­ing her gold medal from Olympic hep­tathlon cham­pion Denise Lewis.

“I just want to start to cel­e­brate with these girls now, it’s go­ing to be quite a party,” she said.

“I was so emo­tional up on that podium and I can’t be­lieve I’ve got this gold medal, I don’t think I’m ever go­ing to take it off.

“We’ve worked so hard for this and we never stopped be­liev­ing. Aus­tralia are the best team in the world and we’ve just beaten them at their home Com­mon­wealth Games, I’m just in shock. I couldn’t stop the tears on the podium.

“When I think back to when I started in the sport you just don’t think you can achieve this – but any­one can achieve any­thing if you work hard and keep be­liev­ing.”

Eng­land hadn’t played a ma­jor net­ball fi­nal since 1975 but edged out hosts Aus­tralia and si­lenced a par­ti­san home crowd with their sec­ond buzzer beat­ing vic­tory in 24 hours.

These girls have cer­tainly learned the art of leav­ing it late and mak­ing you sweat, with Haythorn­th­waite mak­ing a key fi­nal quar­ter con­tri­bu­tion from the bench.

Jo Harken drained the last gasp goal to beat Ja­maica in the semi-fi­nals and He­len Housby held her nerve to win a dra­matic fi­nal 52-51.

It sparked scenes rem­i­nis­cent of the women’s hockey team in Rio, as play­ers rushed onto the court in wide-eyed dis­be­lief, wrap­ping them­selves in flags, rolling around the floor and cry­ing tears of undi­luted joy and relief.

The fi­nal was al­ways close, as both teams went point for point, never build­ing up more than a slen­der lead. It was dead­locked at half-time and dead­locked with a sec­ond re­main­ing, un­til Housby’s hero­ics.

And it could be the start of things to come, with the next World Cup staged on home soil in Liverpool next year

“Eng­land net­ball are just get­ting started,” added Haythorn­th­waite

“We’ve been build­ing and build­ing to­wards this. We’ve got to pinch our­selves but hope­fully we can keep build­ing and do it again at the World Cup next year.

“I had ev­ery con­fi­dence in He­len, it was like watch­ing in slow motion and I was just will­ing the ball to go in. This squad never gives up, we fight to the very last sec­ond and we have each other’s back.”

For Tracey Neville, it was rem­i­nis­cent of her broth­ers’ Cham­pi­ons League win 19 years ago.

Gary and Phil Neville won the 1999 Eu­ro­pean Cup to com­plete the tre­ble in Barcelona, but that eu­phoric feel­ing could eas­ily be trans­ported to Aus­tralia’s Gold Coast af­ter an ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mance and as­ton­ish­ing fi­nale.

“Bloomin’ heck,” head coach Tracey Neville said.

“I ac­tu­ally said to them, ‘can you win by a few more goals be­cause this isn’t plea­sur­able on the bench?’”

Gary Neville was cheer­ing on from his liv­ing room in the early hours of the morn­ing, UK time.

“His wife sent me a video,” Tracey Neville said.

“He was lit­er­ally at the telly go­ing ‘C’mon, He­len, go on’.

“I re­mem­ber the tre­ble in Barcelona when they put that goal in. I was on tour at the time and I was scream­ing in a room at 4am.

“Ev­ery­one says what does it mean to the Neville fam­ily. We just live, eat and breathe sport. We sup­port each other 100 per cent.”

In the roles of Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer and Teddy Sher­ing­ham – the stoppage-time goalscor­ers at the Nou Camp – here were Harten and Housby.

Tracey Neville said: “The ac­tual gold medal was meant to be won at the World Cup next year. “Hope­fully we can back this up. “This dream can be any­one’s. Ev­ery­one wants to win, even my mum at 64 who is still play­ing,” she added.

I’m just in shock. I couldn’t stop the tears on the podium.

York­shire’s Natalie Haythorn­th­waite af­ter help­ing Eng­land to net­ball gold.

CHAM­PI­ONS: He­len Housby and Natalie Haythorn­th­waite cel­e­brate with their gold medals af­ter win­ning the Women’s Net­ball fi­nal against Aus­tralia at the Com­mon­wealth Games.

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