Leighton relishing London atmosphere

24 April 2012 / 16:56

Great Britain water polo captain Fran Leighton expects her team to thrive in the partisan atmosphere of a home Olympic Games.

The team will get their first taste of the Water Polo Arena next week at the test event, where they will compete against Hungary, Australia and the United States, and sizeable crowds are expected.

For the Games themselves, the 5,000-capacity venue will be packed out as Britain's women compete at the Olympics for the first time, while there has not been a British men's team since the 1956 Games.

There will certainly be nerves but, after seeing how her team handled a big crowd at the European Championships in Holland in January, Leighton has no doubt they can use it to their advantage.

It was the first time Britain had qualified for the tournament since 1997, and they pushed Hungary, Russia and the hosts before beating Germany in their final game.

Leighton told Press Association Sport: "To enter the Europeans after 15 years was fantastic, and it was our stepping stone preparation for the Olympics. To finish seventh was brilliant, we played some really tough games.

"It was exciting to be in that environment, on the big stage. We loved the atmosphere. I think there were about 2,000 people so when we played the Dutch that was fab. Even though it wasn't for us, it was still a great place to play.

"We can't wait to bring that to London and hopefully all our fans and all the British people will get behind us. All the girls really embraced the occasion in Holland. We could have been a bit nervous about playing in a really big stadium but it was fantastic how we dealt with it and hopefully it'll be the same in London."

The team will head down to London at the start of next week and will train in the pool before the competition begins next Thursday.

"We're all so excited about seeing the venue and going in the pool," said Leighton. "There's all the talk about it but when we set foot off the bus at the Olympic Park it'll start to feel like it is real. We've seen all the pictures and we just can't wait to play and hopefully compete well at the test event."