London 2012

Press release

Savanah Leaf: from San Jose to Earls Court via the University of Miami to become an Olympian for Team GB

Savanah Leaf anchored GB's offense along the way to their only win at Earls Court over Algeria

London, Great Britain, August 5, 2012 – The home heroines of Team GB completed their Olympic campaign on Sunday afternoon as they eventually lost their last preliminary match to Japan in straight sets, thereby missing out on a spot for the 1/4 finals that are scheduled for this coming Tuesday. Savanah Leaf, 18, is the real rookie of the group coached by 1996 Olympian Audrey Cooper, as she joined the national team only four months ago after being invited for a try-out. Leaf has been living in the US for the past nine years, and still can’t fully realize she has been representing her home country at the Olympics.

“This is something I could have hardly imagined even five months ago and finally I ended up by playing the Olympic tournament with Team GB, being cheered by an amazing crowd here at Earls Court”. Savanah is convinced that after the Olympics there will be a legacy for the sport in the UK: “We have been meeting so many people who shared their enthusiasm for volleyball. Even members of my family, my cousins and their friends, they have said they will surely take up volleyball after seeing me playing here at the Olympics. The large majority of our supporters just did not know what volleyball was all about but after this experience they will surely get more involved and I am confident many children were captured by the sport and will join us, making sure Team GB will get stronger and stronger in the future”.

Leaf has been residing in California, in the San Jose area, where her mum is working for Pixar. Right before the Christmas break, she was transferred to the University of Miami to enjoy a more favorable environment for her volleyball career. “I started playing when I was 11 and I surely could not imagine I would have gone that far and become an Olympian for Team GB. Actually I initially played basketball but was invited by a teacher to join her volleyball team and I have to admit that at the beginning it was pretty intense and demanding, at least for a young girl of that age”. Savanah feels evidently proud for joining these Olympics and even though she has not been living in the UK for quite a while, this home debut means a lot as “this is my home, the country where I was born and most of my relatives reside”.

After the Olympics Leaf will fly back to the States but she is set to return back to Europe in early September as Team GB will be joining the second qualifying round for the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship. “Once the Europeans are over, I will go back again to America. We have a good volleyball team there at the University of Miami: our players are athletically very good, since most of the girls are all-round athletes, not exclusively playing volleyball”.

Questioned about her favorite player, Leaf reveals that she’s actually more into men’s volleyball: “I am scouting men’s teams because I like their style of playing, this is pretty much different from what we are used in women’s volleyball. I mean, the way they jump, they hit, with so much power. I really love it and I try to imitate their style and way of doing things”.

As she is only 18, Savanah still has a long way to go, not only in volleyball, but also in life: “These Olympics will radiate positive energy around the country, inspire the next generation of GB sportspeople and I am grateful I could be part of this unique show and memorable experience”.

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