Greece – World champion! Alexandra Assimaki – an improbable centre-forward
December 30, 2011 3 Comments
Since 2000, when women’s water polo became an Olympic sport, Greece has had several good results. But in 2011 they struck home big-time by winning in Shanghai. They are the only team, in the history of this nation’s sports, which won Olympic (Silver), European (Silver) and now World championships (Gold) medals!
This nation’s successes have been on display for a while. But it is not just the technical results, which the team has achieved in recent years that should be counted. It is the quality of their water polo that impresses and is the best testimony to a coach’s credentials. George Morfessis was not widely known until his appointment, but under his competent stewardship the team’s performance has been steadily on the upward curve during the previous 3 years, culminating with the world’s crown last July.
I was impressed with Greece’s performance in Shanghai and knew after their win against the powerful Russian team, in the preliminary rounds, that they were going to be among the medallists.
This side’s outstanding features are not limited by good technique-tactical skills. Their hunger to succeed and the “never give-up” attitude make them the team they are.
The player, who most distinctly demonstrated these qualities in Shanghai, was a centre-forward, Alexandra Assimaki. One of the smallest players, not only for someone who specializes in this specific role but in general, Assimaki plays brilliantly in the most improbable position for someone of her size.
I enjoyed watching her. To me, she was the best CF at that tournament. Any opposition’s centre-back had difficulties tackling her. The unwavering fighting spirit and strong performance in every match made her one of the Greece’s leading players, spearheading her attacking actions. Alexandra has proven again that size is not the most important factor for a good player – what matters are good skills, big heart, strong mind and intelligence.
At the age of 23 (and being a law student), she is already an experienced player. Her first appearance on a big stage was at the World League in 2005 (1st place) & 2007 (3rd), Olympic games-08 (8th), World championships-09 (4th) and European championships-10 (2nd) tournaments.
Goalkeeper Elena Kouvdou and Captain Antigone Roumbessi were included in the symbolic “All Stars” team in Shanghai. Alexandra Assimaki was named the Europe’s top player in 2011 by the European Aquatic Sport’s governing body – the LEN.
It will be interesting to see how these players and the rest of the Greek team will handle the “burden of expectations” in London-12. Now that they are World champions, nothing less than the 1st place is expected of them.