Wednesday, 4 December 2013

First Round of Euro League

Headed off to Athens to meet up with the Olympiacos team (Greece) to have a week of hard training before flying out to Hungary. Here in Hungary we spent some time going over tactics and having training games. Then it was off to Eger for the first round of Euro League.

Our first game was very important, as in order to qualify for the quarterfinals you have to win a minimum of 2 games out of the 3 games. First up was SKIF Izmailovo (Russia) the game started out reasonably close. We were able to pull away a little in the third and fourth quarter, but our mistakes kept them in the game. In the end we were able to hold them out with a 3 goal win.

Our next game was always going to be a tough one, as NGM Firenze (Italy) had also won their first game. Therefore who ever won this game was going to qualify for the next round. Our game went goal for goal for three quarters. We were able to pull away in the forth quarter to a 7-4 lead with 5 minutes to go. However, some silly mistakes and poor defence allow them to score 4 goals and take the game. This game was very disappointing as we made a lot of errors and meant that we had to win against the home team in front of their crowd.

Our third and final game vs Egri Vizilabda (Hungary) was very stressful as both teams were in the same position (1 loss, 1 win) and had to win in order to proceed to the next round. We started well with defending a number of extra men in the first few minutes and had some very strong attack. However it wasn’t until the final quarter where we pulled away and sealed the win and our ticket to the quarterfinals.

Final standings:
1.     NGM Firenze 6 pts
2.     Olympiacos SFP 6pts
3.     Egri Vizilabda 3pts
4.     SKIF Izmailovo 3pts

All Qualification Round results

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

What's Next?

After a silver medal at the World Championships and a much needed 10 week European and UK holiday. Upon arriving home I had a brief stint to get over the jet lag before heading back into training. There is nothing like those first few days of training where everything is a struggle and you start to wonder why you ever stopped training in the first place.

But lucky for me it only took the first week before the feel of the water started to come back and only 3 weeks before I was starting to feel like myself again. Having graduated in June and quitting my job before World Championship tour it was time for me to start making some decisions about my future.

Did I want to keep playing internationally? What sort of work did I want to get in to? Essentially I was at a crossroad and it was time for me to make some choices. I decided that after a great year playing for the Aussie Stingers I wasn’t ready to retire just yet. And since I was thinking about some postgraduate study, it made sense to keep playing while (a) I continued to enjoy it and (b) while my schedule was looking to stay very similar to what it had been; i.e. work, study, polo.

View in Athens
So with that decision made I took up an offer to play professionally overseas in the LEN trophy for a Greek club team, which was looking to be approximately a 2 month contract. I was excited to be returning back to Greece where I had played previously (after the Beijing Olympics). Arriving in Greece on Tuesday where I will be training in Athens for a week before flying to Hungary for the first round. After a week in Hungary I fly out to meet up with the Aussie Stingers in Ottawa for Canada Cup then off Holiday Cup in California. 

One of the Training Pool in Athens
It's great to be back!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Barcelona Baby

The Aussie Stingers have finally made their way to Barcelona. After a quick week of games and training in Bilbao, northern Spain, we were finally given a rest day after going nonstop for 15 days. Dining this time we visited the Guggenheim Museum, had some fantastic tapas in the 'old town', plus of course some shopping.

However this short respite did not last long, as soon enough we were back in the pool completing some last minute fitness work before heading into World Champs. Finally we were on our way to Barcelona. Or draw saw us up against New Zealand, China and South Africa in the preliminary rounds. Having played both New Zealand and China in our rounds at World League we had a fair idea of what we were up against. However that did not stop the nerves from creeping in every now and then.

The forth day of World Champs is coming to a close and we are two games in. Our first game vs New Zealand, saw us look a little rusty at first but we were able to keep our heads and come away with a solid win, 15-4. With our first game done and dusted we started our preparation on our net opponent, China. We new this one was going to be a tough one, as it would essentially decide who would top our group and there for have a better cross over to get into the top 8. 

After a rough start we were down at the first break. However we picked ourselves up and were able to pull away in the second half, with a 10-0 score line. The final score was 14-5. A great effort from all the girls, so proud of everyone. This  victory will only be short lived, as we are straight back into preparation for our next game, South Africa.

A huge thanks to all of our supporters over here in Barcelona, back in Oz and around the world. 

For game reports and info please visit the Water Polo Australia Website 

Or follow them on twitter (@WaterpoloAus) or Facebook (Water Polo Australia) 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

First leg: Hungary

Our journey to the World Championships in Barcelona began on the first of July, as all interstate players made their way to Sydney for a short but intense camp. After some hard training we departed Australia for Hungary on the fourth and after numerous flights and many hours we arrived at our destination without any bags in the early hours of the morning. We awoke the next morning to sunshine and clear skies and off we went to the pool. Luckily for us the pool was a short walk from our rooms. We made do with what gear we had, although there were some burnt shoulders from lack of sunscreen and us still carrying our winter coats.

Our luggage finally arrived that afternoon and we could start settling in to our training routine. Hard sessions and some tough work was ahead in this first leg of our tour. Good food and the great location made all the hard work easier and the numerous hours of training became a thing of the past and we started to really cement some of the ground work in our preparation for the big games to come. Although the test game was a disappointing loss, there were some positives to be drawn from it. Things may not have come together yet, however the steps we are taking will see us gaining more and more momentum each day.

It's been highly entertaining getting to know some of the new girls a little better. There have been some interesting quirks popping up here or there and some entertaining conversations. With the sun at our backs we left Hungary behind and ventured off to Spain. Situated on the northern side of Spain, Bilbao is where we will set up camp for the next week with some test matches against Spanish and Italians. Our mens contingent (the Aussie Sharks) have also arrived here for some matches. It will be great to both play and watch some good games before we finally journey south to Barcelona for the main event.

Buenas noches 

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Barcelona 2013

So after some very busy months finally our preparation for the Fina World Championships Barcelona, will ramp up, as we head off into camp. I have finally sat my last exams for my Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree (fingers crossed they all went well), and have finished up at my job with the Red Cross Blood Service. So now its time to really buckle down and enjoy putting in the hard yards at training. So bring it on!

This afternoon the team will meet in Sydney to begin a short and intense training camp before flying out to Hungary. It has been a difficult week trying to get ready. Firstly I have had to start planing my holiday for when World Champs finishes up (soo exicited!), secondly I have had the ordeal of trying to work out how to pack for 3 months away, numerous seasons, training and uniform gear (of which we have plenty off, loving the new gear we received from our new sponsors) and casual clothing, all without going over 20kg... a tough ask. 

A disappointing result at the World League Finals in Beijing as a result of inconsistent play saw us drop some important games in penalty shootouts. However, these loses have helped us analyze the areas we need to work on and have helped refocused our training to fix them. Plus plenty of fitness work to maintain the level we want to be at.

This upcoming tour will see us departing from Sydney to Hungary for about a week, then to Bilbao, Spain and then finally landing in Barcelona for the Fina World Championships. We have a great team heading over, combination of some new girls coming into the team and some of the girls from London Olympic returning. Full team list can be viewed on Water Polo Australia Website


Saturday, 19 January 2013

BHP Aquatic Super Series

Second week of training done, and what a week it has been. Attending a senior training camp with China was not really what I had in mind when I thought about heading back to training after a long break. The grueling sessions and training games left us feeling a little battered at the end of the week as we headed into the final showdown. The official game as a part of the BHP Aquatic Super Series (BASS).

The training week consisted of spending around 4 hours in the pool a day plus an hour in the gym every second day. As well as a mixture of video reviews, ice baths, recovery and physio. It can be very limiting on the amount of down time you can scrape together. How I have missed this!  

 Video: Behind the scenes of the Australia Water Polo teams at the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series

With a fairly new squad put together it was fantastic to see some great individual and team play over the week. I was a little nervous to say the least at heading into international competition after only 2 weeks of training. I was unsure if my brain would still work under the pressure, not to mention how my body would hold up. Five months is a long time to be out of the water and out of competition.

The girls really showed their character in coming out strong at the start of the game. With most of the first quarter turning into a swimming match. We soldiered on and kept battering away at the Chinese defense to be rewarded with some goals. Although the margin was always close, we netted a couple of goals in a row in the final quarter, giving us some breathing room. In the end we won 7-6, a fantastic effort from everyone. Click Here for Match Report

The BASS event was fantastic! It was great to be involved in an event that wasn't solely based around water polo. Getting to know more of the Australian Sporting Community and seeing how other sports prepare and compete. Hopefully for those swimming fans who don't know that much about polo or who haven't seen a live world class international game were able to enjoy either the men's or women's game. Now it's back to QAS (Queensland Academy of Sport) and National League training, with our first National League game not too far away.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

New Year, New Squad

With the beginning of a New Year, so sees a new Stingers squad emerging. With some of our London Olympic team retiring, others taking a break or returning to various work or study commitments,  making way for the next generation of players to make their mark on the international stage. To start the New Year off the squad heads to Perth to train and play against the Chinese in the BHP Aquatic Super Series (BASS). With our Olympians returning to training on the 7th of January it’s going to be a tough week of training and playing. The week caps off with an Official Game on Friday 18th at Challenge Stadium.

So after a fantastic 5-month break it’s great to head straight back into the swing of things. Although the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a killer, it seems to be easing off as the week’s progress. It's be great training with Glencora, Ziggy and Victoria during this week, with Holly to arrive tonight.

With the BHP Aquatic Super Series starting 18th and continuing to the 20th, with a number of swimming events, the Aussies Sharks playing Croatia and our game vs China. Should be a good game against our Olympic quarter final opponents, where our game went into extra time and penalty shootout.