International Water Polo in Melbourne

January features a lot of high-level water polo in Australia. Having started with a three-game series of men’s matches between Australia and USA in Sydney earlier this month, the water polo festival will continue in Melbourne from 8-14 January with the inaugural Pan Pacs tournament for men and women’s teams.

The participating men’s sides’ best post-World War Two results and current standing are as follows:

(Team-Best result at the Olympic games (OG) or world championships (WC)–Current standing)

USA – 2nd OG Beijing 2008 – 6th WC Shanghai 2011
Australia – 4th WC Perth 1998 – 9th WC 2011
Japan – 11th OG Los-Angeles 1984 – 11th WC 2011
Brazil – 9th OG Helsinki 1952 – 14th WC 2011
China – 11th OG Seoul 1988 – 15th WC 2011
New Zealand – 15th WC Melbourne 2007 – N/A

At the world championships in Shanghai Italy won Gold, Serbia – Silver and Croatia -Bronze.

Australia and America will be playing in the final of this tournament and, unlike the previous exhibition matches, this will be a more serious affair for both teams.

The two squads, who will have benefited most from this competition, are Japan and China. They are preparing for the Asian Olympic games Qualification Tournament to be held Chiba, Japan from 23-29 January. Both teams have been in Australia for almost a month participating in various events and are well acclimatized, and in top shape. The Pan Pacs is an excellent fine-tuning opportunity and the match between them promises to be interesting since the winner will gain a psychological advantage going into the Qualification tournament.

The women’s teams’ best results and standing are as follows:

USA – 1st WC Rome 2009 – 6th WC 2001
Australia – 1st OG Sydney 2000 – 5th WC 2011
Canada – 2nd WC Rome 2009 – 8th WC 2011
China – 2nd WC Shanghai 2011 – 2nd WC 2011
Brazil – 8th WC Perth 1991 – 14th WC 2011

At the world championships in Shanghai Greece won Gold, China – Silver and Russia – Bronze.

With the world’s top 4 teams present, the women’s tournament is a more even and tougher competition and, therefore, more beneficial for its participants. In particular, for the teams who are going to London: Australia, China and the USA.

The China’s qualification campaign later on this month in Japan is a mere formality as they dominate in Asia at present.

Canada lost to US in the Americas’ Qualification Tournament but will have another go at it together with several top European teams in April in Trieste, Italy.

I anticipate that – as a host nation – Australia should be one of the finalists of the Pan Pacs. The other one could be either US, Canada or China. I might be mistaken though. It will be an interesting tournament.

Australian Water Polo and the other organisers deserve credit for staging this event. Undoubtedly, it will help our teams to better prepare for the Olympic games in London.

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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