Both the women’s and men’s British water polo teams have today been assured of their place at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The decision to permit British Swimming, the National Governing Body for swimming, diving, synchronised swimming, water polo and open water in Great Britain, to utilise the Host Nation Qualification Places for water polo was made by the British Olympic Association’s (BOA) Olympic Qualifying Standards Panel, which among others includes Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt; the Chair of the BOA Athletes Commission Sarah Winckless; and the BOA’s Director of Sport Sir Clive Woodward. The decision was made following detailed consultation with British Swimming.
Said Team GB Chef de Mission and BOA Chief Executive Andy Hunt:
“Great Britain has not had a water polo team at an Olympic Games since 1956 so I am thrilled that at the London 2012 Olympics we will be able to change this.
“During the last few years the women’s and men’s teams have played competitive matches against some of the best teams in the world, achieving very promising results and improving their world and European rankings.
“Both the women and men have gained valuable experience playing regularly in Europe - the women in the Hungarian league and the men as part of European clubs - and have now increased their performance to a level at which we are confident that they will perform credibly in the pool come 2012. London will also be an experience that the British players will be able to capitalize on for their future development towards the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and beyond, particularly the comparatively young men’s team.”
Sir Clive Woodward, Team GB Deputy Chef de Mission and BOA Director of Sport, commented:
“The commitment and results that both the water polo teams have shown, and the innovative plans developed for water polo by the national governing body, demonstrate that the players will make the nation proud in 2012 and leave a long term legacy for the sport in the UK.”
David Sparkes, British Swimming Chief Executive said:
“We are delighted with the decision of the BOA to agree to take up the Home Nation Qualification places for both the men’s and women’s teams in London. There has been a massive effort by the players and the sport to raise their game and take advantage of this opportunity.
“We will continue to work hard with the teams to get the best possible result from the Games and we will drive our legacy programme even harder to ensure that after 56 years of absence from the Olympics, British water polo secures a future for itself in the Olympics.”
Fran Leighton, (from Rotherham; plays for City of Sheffield) Captain of the British Women’s Water Polo Team added:
“It’s absolutely brilliant. We’ve been waiting for this news for a long time, so to finally know that we are going to be part of Team GB next year is really exciting.
“All of our hard work and dedication has paid off and we’re now focussed on being the best we can be to represent Great Britain on the Olympic stage. We’re so happy that the boys will be competing alongside us and are really thankful to everyone who has supported us in getting to this point.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to show the nation how amazing British water polo is and inspire youngsters, no matter what sport they play, to give Water Polo a try.”
Ed Scott, (from Bolton; plays for City of Manchester) Goalkeeper for the British Men’s Water Polo Team commented:
“It’s fantastic news for both teams and the whole sport, and is the culmination of all the hard work and sacrifices every one of us has made.
“To play a home Olympics is such a unique opportunity and we’re all really pleased that we will get to represent Team GB next year in the sport that we love.
“Getting to showcase Water Polo on the world’s greatest stage will hopefully encourage more people to get involved and help develop the sport throughout the country for years to come.”