Royal treatment for Harby-Williams

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It’s not every day you get a member of the Royal family remembering who you are and then calling out your name.

But that’s what happened to Australian great Kath Harby-Williams at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games when the then Diamonds captain had a brush with royalty – and her teammates were envious.

“They had a morning tea with the captains of the netball teams and Princess Sophie and Prince Edward were there so I actually chatted to them for about half an hour,” Harby-Williams said.

“Later that day we went to the gymnastics and, as I was walking towards the gymnastics, the couple were coming in the opposite direction so Prince Edward called out ‘hi Kathryn, how are you?’ so the girls thought it was special because Royalty knew exactly who I was.

“It’s little things like that that make the Commonwealth Games very special, because things happen to you that perhaps don’t happen in ordinary life.”

During an illustrious 94 Test career that spanned between 1990-2003, the now 44-year-old played in two Commonwealth Games and three World Championships.

She reached netball’s pinnacle with gold medals at the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games to go with World Championship titles in 1995 and ’99.

Her most treasured memories are associated with the 2002 tournament because she was not just a team member, but captain as well.

 “(It was) just amazing, I guess as a netballer there are two things that you aspire to: a World Championship Gold medal and a Commonwealth Games Gold medal,” Harby-Williams said.

“I was lucky enough to manage both of those but I guess 2002 was really special because I was captain and we won in extra time.

What made Australia’s 57-55 double extra time win over New Zealand more remarkable was the fact that the Australians were underdone heading into the match, with some players carrying injuries.

“There have been very few games where I’ve thought `we’re gone here’ but one of those was this game,” Harby-Williams said of the gold medal match.

“We were struggling to get on top of New Zealand. We were getting toward the end of full time and we just thought though that perhaps it was going to be difficult.”

Unlike some major event host cities, Manchester isn’t a large one but was a great host as it displayed itself to the world and fully embraced the games.

 “It’s not a big city, so it was great. People were really embracing it, everywhere you went you knew that the Commonwealth Games were on,” Harby-Williams recalled.

“Manchester did a really good job, the atmosphere was great.”

Australia kicks off its 2014 Commonwealth Games campaign in Glasgow on Thursday against Wales at 10.30pm (AEST). Follow the Australian Netball Team during the Commonwealth Games online on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aussiediamonds or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aussiediamonds