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England Netball

To be selected to represent your country for the Commonwealth Games is no small feat.

Whether it’s a momentous fifth Games as it is for star defender Geva Mentor, or your first like it is for Jodie Gibson, we’re told the excitement and sense of honour never fades.

‘Every Games has been unique and special’ says Geva. ‘It’s obviously a privilege to still be within the team and I feel like I’m able to contribute on the court and off court.

‘I definitely don’t take it lightly or for granted. For it to be my fifth Games is where I can almost reflect back and think I’ve been in this Game for nearly 20 years and to be at the top of my game in this elite environment for so long is testament to the people around me.’

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The excitement is equal for Severn Stars defender Jodie Gibson.

‘It’s something I’ve always dreamed about and if I’m being honest, it’s not something I expected to be involved in in 2018.

‘We have such an amazing team and lots of experience, so to actually be here is a dream come true.

‘I’m really excited and it’s so nice to share the experience with the other U21 girls that I came up with, the likes of Beth Cobden and Natalie Haythornthwaite.

‘What’s even better as well is to see Geva – it’s her fifth Commonwealth Games and she’s even more excited than we are, so to know that she’s still so excited is a reminder that this buzz will never go away.’

Geva’s been playing with the Roses since she was 16 and in that time she’s won two bronze medals at the 2006 and 2010 Games.

Once you get to an impressive fifth, you get good at pinning down exactly what makes it so special: ‘Everyone says this is the friendly Games and it really is. Even just walking around the village, everyone’s smiling and saying ‘hi’.

‘There are some competitive glances at your fellow teams that you’ll be playing against from your sport, but there’s definitely an appreciation of seeing other athletes that we’ve perhaps watched compete in their events – and now actually being able to walk the same streets as them, sit in the same dining hall as them and just be under the same roof as them is a very unique position to be in.

‘For me, the Commonwealth Games is the pinnacle in our sport because it gives us the taste of being in that elite environment that involves so many other, different talents, body shapes and skill sets that we maybe take for granted because we are just on the netball court throwing around a ball – but to see some of the athletes and some of the para-athletes is a great environment to be in.’

England will play their first match against Scotland on Thursday where Geva and Jodie plan to make history.

For details on BBC’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games, check out their schedule.

Make sure you’re following England Netball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and show your support on social media by using the hashtags #WeAreRoses and #TeamAndCountry.

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