Water polo women to face qualifying - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Water polo women to face qualifying

By Tim Clarke 15/12/2002 02:57:41 PM Comments (0)

Australia faces the prospect of having to qualify for next year's women's water polo world championships - a far cry from the Olympic gold medal-winning exploits two years ago.

The Australian women ended their miserable World Cup campaign in Perth on Saturday night in sixth position, which is their worst ever finish.

Coach Istvan Gorgenyi said he would meet with his players to discuss how to turn their form slump around.

The Australian line-up is vastly different to the one that beat the USA in a thrilling Olympic final, with only three players remaining - captain Naomi Castle, influential Jo Fox, and Taryn Woods, currently coming back from injury.

However five members of the current squad played in the junior world championships just over a year ago and Gorgenyi said they must step up.

"When we had to win there was just a huge amount of pressure put on our young girls and they didn't know how to handle it," he said.

Australia also sorely missed a left-handed player who can change the angle of attack, when Melissa Mills pulled out of the squad with injury two weeks before the tournament.

But Gorgenyi's greatest worry is the lack of funding for his team.

He said the sport's top talent was opting to walk away from the pool because they could not afford to play.

"Despite the great assistance we receive from the AIS and the Australian Sports Commission, the girls have personally not had any other financial support since the Olympics and it has created a major problem," he said.

"They have to work to support themselves plus train over 24 hours a week, and we have lost Yvette Higgins this year because of this financial dilemma."

The centralised training program, that meant the players could live and train in the same city in the lead-up to the Olympics is also something that Gorgenyi wants to see return.

Despite difficult week in Perth, he remained positive that the future was bright for his team and the sport.

"We will sit down and talk about what we can to do to go forward.

"But I believe what we have said all week about a young team with great potential has been shown."

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