WATER POLO: Despite having two bronze medals to her name, Gemma Beadsworth’s desire for gold bought her out of semi-retirement and she hopes it will be ‘third time lucky’ for the elusive gold medal.
The dual Olympian helped her team secure bronze in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and in 2012 in London – but it was the strong desire to win gold that spurred her to re-join the Australian women’s water polo squad.
Since arriving in Rio, Beadsworth can’t believe she ever contemplated not being here.
“It seems like a distant memory and I’m so glad I was able to come back, it has been the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Beadsworth.
“I’d been in the national teams since I was 17, it was about eight years by the time I got to London and I needed to have break and make sure that if I was going to commit I really wanted it.
“I think having not achieved a gold medal made it an extra motivation to want to come back.
“I always left the door open slightly. Perhaps I knew I was always going to come back, but it took me a while to come around to the fact.”
The Australian women’s water polo team has experienced strong success on the Olympic stage since the women’s event was introduced at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, where the Aussies claimed gold.
Since then Australia has secured two bronze medals, with the powerhouse USA team surging forward as one of the most dominate forces on the Olympic circuit.
But with a new-look side and several wins against the USA coming into the Rio Olympics, Beadsworth said the team believes they have what it takes to once again finish on top of the podium.
“Each team I’ve been part of has always had a good mix of youth and experience,” Beadsworth said.
“This is a really exciting, fresh team that brings a lot of things to the game and I think we’re in a really good spot to play our best water polo here.
“The venue is really good, we’re expecting big crowds.
“The pool is great, the open venue will be good for the time of our games also,” she said.
Australia has drawn Russia, Italy and Brazil in the preliminary rounds, where they hope to finish on top to give them a good position leading into the quarter-finals.
The opening game will see Australia take on Russia at 1:00pm Rio time on 9 August (2:00am AEST 10 August) at Maria Lenk.
While there has much been reported on the Russian athletes, Beadsworth said it hasn’t factored into the team’s planning.
“We never as a group get involved in things we can’t control,” she said.
“We are looking forward to our first game. It’s been something we have been working towards for a long time.
“We’ll prepare for them like any other team and will be really wanting to get a win to start the Games off well.”