Hello, this third blog I am writing from my flat in Manchester which I share with team mates Chloe (right winger) and Rosie (the goalie).
We have just been narrowly beaten by Spain in our third Euro Qualifier match. The final score was 14-9 but I think a 2-3 goal score difference would have reflected the game better. We started out strong but Spain capitalised on our silly mistakes and we were playing ‘catch-up’ the rest of the game. We must finish in the top two to qualify for Europeans in January and despite this defeat, we are still on target for achieving this.
Earlier in the month the squad travelled down to London for our first tour of the Olympic Park. We left Manchester at 5am on a bus and arrived at the British Olympic Association offices just in time for brunch. Before heading to the Olympic Park we had a couple of very interesting Olympic Awareness talks about the park and the athlete village, including an introduction to the athlete food court, which I have to tell you about… the food court will be in a large warehouse near the athlete apartments and will be big enough to cater for thousands of people 24 hours a day! Athletes from all over the world will eat there so it has to cater for everyone. There will be every type of food imaginable available (including McDonalds!) and fridges lined with every kind of drink, all for free! We were told all this because, as you can imagine, there have been problems in the past with first-time Olympic athletes – which all of us will be – not eating appropriately then not performing at their best. We have been told that in the two days at the end of the Olympics when we have finished competing, we can eat as much free McDonalds as we like, but not until then!
Going into the Olympic park itself was incredibly exciting, to see how it is all developing. We drove around the whole site visiting the stadium, velodrome, media centre, basketball arena, athlete village (to name just a few!) and finally, the swimming pool. I think the aquatic centre has the best position in the park as it will be the first venue people will view when they walk in from the main gates. Seeing all this in person was very inspiring and I can’t wait ’til our next visit later in the year when a lot more of the construction will be complete.
(If you are interested, the tour of the park is open to the public on weekends and is free; you just have to register online beforehand.)
In another part of our ‘Out of the Pool’ programme this month we had arguably the best waterpolo coach in the world come and talk to us about his Olympic experiences. Dénes Kemény has coached the Hungarian Men’s Team for the last 15 years, leading them to victory in Sydney, Athens and Beijing. He shared lots of advice and stories including this one from the Sydney Olympics… Despite being favourites to win Hungary finished third in their pool, having lost two out of three matches. Dénes felt that his men were not playing together as a team so he sent them to the pub – without any management – to sort things out for themselves. After that the squad went on to win every game, including the gold medal match against Russia!
This Thursday we are off to Barcelona for the first round of World League. In our pool we face Spain, Greece and Hungary. We will play each team once over the weekend before flying on to Athens for the second round next weekend. We must come in the top two in our pool to proceed further. All three opposing teams are very strong but we are hoping to use these matches to close the gap between ourselves and the top teams in the world. Hopefully we’ll come away with a couple of wins!
I’ll let you know how we’ve got on next time,