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Men’s Water Polo Team look to make history at Rio

1 July 2016

WATER POLO: A solid mix of experience and youth will make up the Australian Men’s Water Polo side for the Rio Olympic Games, as the team set out to bring home a medal and claim history.

Never before has the Australian Men’s Water Polo team claimed a medal at the Olympic Games, but everyone from the Coach to the Captain admits it is not out of reach.

Head Coach Elvis Fatovic knows what it takes to win a medal at the Olympic Games, a dual Olympian for Croatia and assistant Coach for Croatia when they seized the Olympic gold medal in London.

Fatovic took the helm of the Australian team in 2013 and said there are at least 10 countries who are right in the mix for a medal, Australia included.

“In my opinion there are 10 countries who could win a medal and I believe we are one of them. It will come down to how teams react under pressure,” said Fatovic.

“We might have a number of news faces but I believe the 13 players we have assembled are the best in Australia.

“The difference for this team compared to previous teams is that we will have two centre forwards in the line up, which is new for us. We will need to be fast and adaptive to be competitive in every game,” he said.

Lining up for his third Olympics, Rhys Howden will this time captain of the team, following in a family tradition.

“My dad captained the British Water Polo team for a number of years, not at an Olympics, but any opportunity to captain your country is such as massive honour and I feel very privileged,” said Howden.

“Dad was the one who got me and my brother involved in the sport. I was interested in rugby when I was very little, but then he took us to a National Water Polo League game and we got to have a play around at the end of the match. And as they say, the rest was history.

“Every Olympics is such as different experience. Having Elvis (Fatovic) on board has certainly bought a lot more composure to the side, our tactics are difference and really he’s instilled in us that we can beat any team in the world we just have to have the confidence to do it.

“We have had a playing side of around 18 since 2013, so while there are a number of Olympic rookies, it doesn’t feel like a new team. We’ve all been together for a long time.

“We are certainly chasing a medal. What we need to do is treat every game as a must win, knowing that once we get in the water we are the same team, the pool size in the same, the ball is the same – we have to treat it like another international tournament,” he said.

Howden alongside Richie Campbell and James Stanton-French will head to their third Olympic Games in Rio.  They are joined by London Olympians Joel Dennerley, Aaron Younger, Johnno Cotterill and Aidan Roach.

Lining up for their first Olympic Games is Nathan Power, George Ford, Jarrod Gilchrist, Joel Swift, Joe Kayes and Mitchell Emery. 

For Power, it was the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games that ignited his passion as a seven-year-old to one day represent Australia at an Olympics.

“We went to Sydney 2000 to the athletics track and Sydney Olympic Park – I still remember that day so vividly like it was yesterday. As an Aussie kid it was pretty special to have the Olympics in your home country and I knew in that moment I wanted to one day compete for my country at the Olympic Games,” said Power.

“There was certainly a lot of anticipation waiting for the phone call to find out if I made the team. Now it’s all about being able to help the team achieve something special.

“I had the opportunity to live and play in Rio last year and I have to say it is such a vibrant city, it truly was a wonderful experience.

“They (Brazil) are a sports crazed nation I think the Olympics in Rio will be something special. We face Brazil in the opening game and that is certainly going to be something incredible to play against them in front of their home crowd.

“Brazil is a team we are familiar with, we’ve played them at almost every FINA tournament so we know what to expect,” he said.

The men’s water polo competition begins on August 6 at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center in Barra da Tijuca, where the Aussies will be one of twelve nations competing for Olympic gold. 

These 13 athletes take the overall 2016 Australian Olympic Team to 228 from 21 sports, with an expected final Team of around 440 athletes. Complete biographies on all selected athletes here>>>

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