GLOBE-TROTTING basketball star Jo Leedham has moved Down Under to continue her build-up to next year’s London Olympics.
The 23-year-old guard from Little Sutton has signed for Australian club Bulleen Boomers.
Leedham believes the move is perfect for her as it will see her link up with Boomers coach Tom Maher, who is also the head coach of Great Britain’s women’s basketball team.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time for me,” said Leedham, whose career has already taken her to spells in America and Poland. “It was important to take this opportunity so I can really focus on being in the best condition possible before 2012 and, most importantly, working on my game.
“I know I have so much to improve on and there is no better place to do that than at the Bulleen Boomers.”
Former Catholic High School pupil Leedham is widely regarded as the most talented player in the GB women’s team. Her dad Kim believes her move to Australia is ideal preparation for next year’s Olympics.
He said: “The opportunities are very limited for women’s basketball in the UK and the financial gains are very small.
“Careers in basketball are short-lived so Jo has to travel around in order to be as successful as possible and get her the quality competition that she needs.
“It’s great that she is linking up with Tom Maher and I’m sure she will be able to thrive over there and come back ready for the Olympics next summer.”
Leedham began her basketball career with the Ellesmere Port Panthers before taking up a scholarship with Franklin Pierce College in America, breaking several college records during her time there.
She deferred the chance to sign for a club in the women’s NBA in order to focus on her Great Britain commitments.
But a spell with Polish club AZS PWSZ Gorzów Wielkopolski was ended by injury, so Jo was not quite firing on all cylinders for this summer’s European Championships in Poland.
Leedham’s time on court was rationed by coach Maher, meaning the guard could show only glimpses of her quality as Team GB lost five of their six matches.
With the Australian season due to begin next month, Leedham is now looking forward to her next challenge with the Victoria-based Boomers.
Dad Kim said: “Jo is determined to get herself right physically for London and she is doing all she can to make sure she does that.
“Once she gets going and starts to find her form, she will be in great shape to hopefully help Great Britain achieve some success.
“You always dream of representing your country and Jo is totally humbled by it.”