NETBALL: FOUR years ago, Suzy Drane was an interested spectator at the MEN Arena when Australia defeated New Zealand 57-55 in the Commonwealth Games final.
The 19-year-old from Waverton can expect to take a more central role in the action when the 2006 Games get under way in Melbourne next month.
Drane has made it into the 12-strong Wales squad and is counting down the days until she flies out to Australia in four weeks' time.
The former Christleton High School pupil has only one senior cap to her name - won last year against Jamaica - and is the youngest member of the squad.
'I'm still getting over it to be honest,' she admitted. 'We've been training as a squad of 24 for ages and they left the final selection late so we pushed each other for each position.
'All of our performance levels increased so it was good they did it.'
Drane and her Wales teammates will be in action on home soil before heading off to Melbourne.
They will get some much-needed match practice under their belts when Cardiff hosts the European Championships.
'It's a good tournament to get things together in,' said Drane, who knows Wales will have to be well prepared as they open up their Commonwealth campaign with a match against hosts and gold medal favourites Australia.
Netball is hugely popular Down Under and crowds of between 4,000 and 14,000 are expected to watch the action next month.
Tickets are so hard to come by that Drane's parents, Kelvin and Carol, were this week struggling to get hold of some so they could watch their daughter in action.
As for Wales's chances of success, Drane added: 'This is the strongest squad Wales has ever had so hopefully we'll do a bit of damage. Our aim is to gain a place of sixth or higher. I'm just counting down the days and training hard.'
Drane qualifies for Wales because she was born in St Asaph. After moving from Llandudno to Waverton, she joined Chester Netball Club at the age of 11 and has gone on to represent Cheshire and Wales at Under 17, U19 and U21 level.
Now a student at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, her biggest achievement to date came in July last year when she played for Wales at the World Youth Championships in Miami.