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Aussie women back on top of water polo world

8 September 2006

Two years before the 2008 Olympic Games the Australian women’s water polo team is again numero uno in the pool.

Australia regained the world number one ranking last month winning the World Cup in Tianjin about three hours outside Beijing.

It was the first major title Australia has lifted since winning the inaugural Olympic gold medal at Sydney 2000. The young Aussie team was undefeated in the eight-team tournament and crushed Athens 2004 Olympic Champions Italy, 10-7 in the final.

Australian captain Mel Rippon said the win was a step towards next year's world championships in Melbourne and the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“A lot of us have trained for a long time and it’s finally happened,” Rippon said.

"We had some goals on this (six-week) tour, step by step. We improved every game and there’s still a lot of improving to come before Melbourne (World Championships) next year and Beijing (Olympics).”

It was a long tour for the team which started back in China in July, followed by the United States, then a fourth place in the World League in Italy and back to China for the World Cup.

Of the 13 girls who made up the World Cup winning team in Tianjin only four girls played in Athens in 2004 and none were in the winning team at the Sydney Games. Although little separates the top five teams in the world the fact the Australian team is so young, and on the up, all bodes well for Beijing.

Rebecca Rippon of NSWIS was voted MVP for the tournament by the Australian coaching staff headed by Greg McFadden. Goalkeeper Alicia McCormack was fantastic in both wins against the Italians.

Taniele Gofers also deserves special praise. The Sydney Uni player broke her thumb early in the tour, returned to Australia for four weeks for treatment and forced her way back into the World Cup winning team.

The entire Australian squad is now back at home into heavy training with their Institutes. In October they will play in the Institute Challenge where selectors will determine the majority of the 26-member squad for the Melbourne World Championships in March.

The full World Cup winning team:

Goalkeepers: Emma Knox (WAIS), Alicia McCormack (NSWIS)

Field players: Gemma Beadsworth (WAIS), Nicole Dyson (NSWIS), Suzie Fraser (QAS), Taniele Gofers (NSWIS), Kate Gynther (QAS), Fiona Hammond (NSWIS), Bronwen Knox (QAS), Patrice O'Neill (NSWIS), Melissa Rippon (Captain) (QAS), Rebecca Rippon (NSWIS), Mia Santoromito (NSWIS)

Head Coach: Greg McFadden

AOC

Return to Beijing Bound

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