Water polo squad looking to Rio

London 2012 will be a stepping stone towards Rio in 2016 for Team GB men’s water polo squad, according to its captain and coach.

Eurosport

The 13-man team, which was announced at Manchester’s Aquatics Centre on Monday, heads to the Olympics as the first men’s squad to represent Great Britain since 1956.

Captain Craig Figes believes his young squad are late developers and hopes that good performances against the world’s best in the summer will create a legacy for four years on.

“The team are still learning and hopefully this is something we can bring after the tournament to Rio in 2016,” said Figes, whose family have a strong swimming tradition.

“Men’s water polo teams tend to hit their peak a few years later than the women’s teams and this Team GB squad is very young, though has grown up a lot in recent years.

“The main thing for us is that the Olympics is part of a building strategy. It’s a challenge, and the whole point of the Olympics is that you compete against the best and that’s something we hope to thrive on. It’s something we can build on for four years time in Rio.

“The legacy is a massive part, especially for a sport like water polo and the team has improved so much in the last five years that we have really closed the gap to the top nations.

“We know we’re not quite there yet but hopefully with the home crowd cheering us on that will help us be part of the ‘greatest team’.”

Figes is hoping to tap into the positivity around London hosting the Games to help drive on his teammates to produce their best form.

But the 33-year-old Bristol-based player doesn’t feel the whole of Team GB should be judged in medals, but by how sport has developed in the UK.

He said: “I’m massively looking forward to next month – it’s been a long time coming. It’s so close and a really exciting time for all of us.

“We see the home Olympics being an inspiration rather than an added pressure and hopefully that will drive us on to produce our best performances.

We got fourth in the medal table in Beijing but you have to remember that every team will want to do better, not just GB.

“As long as all Team GB athletes have worked their hardest and compete to their best level, then I don’t think success should be measured in medals alone. It’s more about how it’s helped to develop sport in this country.”

GB men’s coach Cristian Iordache also wants to see his side use the Olympics as a way of testing themselves against the best and spreading the sport’s reputation in the UK.

He said: “This team is one of the youngest in Europe, and in the world, so the Olympics will be a learning curve for us.

“I hope we can show our progress this summer and then we will see after that. If we play at the level that we can and we can compete with some of the medal favourites then I would consider that a success.

“Taking this experience of having an Olympic Games behind us will help us prove that we are stepping up.

“I hope the home Olympics will bring more attention to the sport and for us as a team so that we can raise the profile of Water Polo in the UK.”

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