Netball World Cup 2019: ‘I can’t quit now, I want another gold’ – Jade Clarke

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Jade Clarke playing for England in the January Quad Series, against her Wasps team-mate Bongi Msomi of South Africa
2019 Netball World Cup
Dates: 12-21 July Venue: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
Coverage: Every match from 15 July onwards will be broadcast by the BBC

Commonwealth champion Jade Clarke says she always planned to quit if she ever won a gold medal – but instead has just been selected for her fifth World Cup.

England’s record appearance holder with 161 caps, Clarke, 35, played in the final as England beat Australia to claim Commonwealth gold in April 2018.

Her decision to play on has led to her inclusion in Tracey Neville’s 12-player squad for the World Cup in July.

“Now I have one gold, I’m like, ‘Can we do the double?’” Clarke told BBC Sport.

“I said before the Commonwealths I’d quit if I won gold, but I’m still here, showing my age.

“You’re always going for gold and we may not have always had that belief, but now we’ve broken the glass ceiling and we can do it again.”

The Wasps centre-courter, who played in the team that lost to Manchester Thunder in the Superleague Grand Final, admits this could “possibly” be her last World Cup.

“I’m not ready to make that decision to retire yet and I think it will be in about a year’s time – you have to be certain,” she said.

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“I am looking forward to not worrying about winning and losing, though. It’s hard to deal with that pressure for so long.”

The Manchester-born player says it is “complete madness” to receive a call-up for her fifth World Cup, after making her senior debut for England in 2002.

And even after being mainstay in Roses squads for major tournaments during that time, Clarke felt she had to perform in the domestic season to keep her place.

“I’m like a kid again, and it feels just like it did when I first started,” Clarke said. “Even after being in the squad for so long, I wasn’t complacent.

“I had to believe I was good enough and I couldn’t control anything else. If I’d missed out 10 years ago I would have been so down, I wouldn’t have been able to even watch the World Cup.”

Can England’s Jade & Nat handle our netball quiz?

England head into the tournament on the back of another victory over world number ones Australia in January, in a Quad Series that also saw fifth-ranked South Africa draw with New Zealand, the world’s second-ranked side, and beat the Roses.

And Clarke says those results leave the World Cup “wide open” compared to previous tournaments, which have all been won by Australia or New Zealand, with both countries contesting all but one final in its 56-year history.

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England’s first game of the World Cup is against Uganda on the opening day – Friday, 12 July at 19:00 BST.

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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