On Monday the Australian Olympic Committee announced the 13-member women’s water polo team for the Tokyo Games.
The most recognisable name on the list is Bronwen Knox, who makes Olympic history by becoming the first Australian woman to be selected for the Stingers for four Olympic Games.
The team features seven debutants including 20-year-olds Abby Andrews and Matilda Kearns, the third and fourth-youngest women to play Water Polo for Australia at an Olympics.
Captain Rowie Webster expressed her excitement about being given the leadership position, as well as the blend of experience and youth in the side.
“It’s unbelievable to be announced as Captain of an Olympic team,” Webster said.
“To be able to lead out an incredible group of women, it will truly be the honour of a lifetime and a childhood dream come true.
“Hearing the words ‘you’re going to the Olympics’ from your head coach is special. I probably didn’t realise how much I needed to hear those words finally being said.
“What I’m most excited about [in] this Aussie Stingers team is the different skills and variety in the team makeup. You have someone like Bron Knox, whose composure and experience you can’t buy… it’s been an honour to play alongside her for so many years.
“On the other hand you have so many fresh faces in the team and to see their growth during this Olympic cycle and the enthusiasm that they will carry into Tokyo, complements our team so well.”
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Bronte Halligan missed out on going to Rio in 2016, and this year she’ll be making her Olympic debut.
At the announcement, Halligan spoke of her memories watching previous Olympics and how it created a 17-year dream that is now being realised.
“I was eight years old when I decided I wanted to go to the Olympics,” Halligan said.
“I remember sitting there with my mum watching the 2004 Athens Olympics and said to her ‘I’ll be the one of your kids to take you to an Olympics.’ Back then, I didn’t even know what water polo was, but I knew I wanted to go to the Olympics.
“As soon as I didn’t make the Rio team, I said to my parents that I would not be giving up and was even more determined I would be there come Tokyo.
“I learnt a lot through that Rio cycle. From then I made sure I put everything on the line, went overseas to play in the college system and learn from internationals, and made sure I put myself in the best possible position to make the team.
“Now it’s here and I couldn’t be happier.”
Australia is still recognised as one of the world’s best water polo nations, winning bronze at the 2019 World Championships.
They’d like to do better than just bronze this year and return to the top of the podium for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
The Stingers will play their first match on July 24 against Canada, also facing the Netherlands, South Africa and European Champions Spain in the group stage.
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