Website Bio Headshot Water Polo FINMatilda Kearns.jpg

Matilda Kearns



Place of Birth




Junior Club

Sydney Northern Beaches Breakers

Senior Club

University of Southern California, and Sydney Lions University

Olympic History

Tokyo 2020

High School

Queenwood School for Girls

Career Events

Water Polo Womens Tournament


Matilda's Story

Fast Facts

Sport: Water Polo 
Event: Women
Olympic History: Tokyo 2020
Year Born: 2000
Born: Sydney 

Unlike many of her fellow players, it was not love at first sight – or touch – for Matilda 'Tilly' Kearns, when as a 13-year-old she jumped into the deep end of the Water Polo pool.

“At first I didn’t really like it because I didn’t really get it. I did it for four weeks and it was barely Water Polo, it was like bull-rush with a ball," she said of her first foray in the sport.

“I stopped playing it but then came back the next season, and because I was bigger than everyone I was better at it and started to like it from there,” said Tilly, of her 176cm frame.

Tilly joined the Sydney Northern Beaches Breakers (SNBB) club and came through the age groups and as soon as she made her first NSW state team, she was determined for Olympic glory.

A ‘Water Polo high-performance camp in July 2018 fuelled that fire a little more.

“I loved the camp, it just sparked my love for the sport again. It was really tactical, it was about learning the plays and combinations,” Tilly said.

Playing with the Sydney University Lions, with several Stinger's teammates she competed in the 2016, 2017, and 2018 FINA World Junior Championships.

She scored 29 goals in her freshman year in 2019 with the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans but would not return for the 2020 season (COVID-19) or 2021 to concentrate on Tokyo preparations. She hopes to complete her USC studies in due course.

Tilly is one of four children to mum Julie and Wallabies legend Phil Kearns, who won two World Cups for Australia in rugby union (1991, 1999), and who actually played some Water Polo in his youth.'

Kearns made her Olympic debut at the delayed Tokyo 2020 games. Australia would enjoy an impressive start to the tournament, securing a group stage record of 3-1, Kearns scoring in their only defeat against Spain. This would set up a quarter-final tie against the ROC, which the Aussies would lose in heartbreaking fashion 9-8. 

The squad would go on to consecutive victories against both Canada and the Netherlands, earning them a 5th overall placing at the games. 


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