GB exit Olympics with heads held above water
Great Britain men’s water polo coach Cristian Iordache insists his team played to the best of their ability throughout London 2012 after their campaign ended in the group stage.
A 13-4 defeat to Montenegro ensured the Brits finished bottom of Group B with a fifth consecutive loss in Team GB’s first men’s water polo Olympic appearance since 1956.
Team GB, the youngest side in the competition, were drawn in the same group as the top four teams from Beijing 2008 and Romanian-born Iordache believes his players will be all the better for the experience.
He said: “We tried to do our best and we kept fighting with the big teams as we could.
“This is a major experience for the players which they can bring with themselves to future competitions.”
Iordache had marked London 2012 as a valuable learning curve for his side and hopes that the experience of competing with the best sides in the world will enhance his players’ own abilities.
“To be honest, we've been waiting for 56 years to have a team in the Olympics, and we'd better take care of this team in the future as I'm not sure that building another one later would be the best solution.”
And 25-year-old driver Sean Ryder, who plays his club water polo with Romanian side Rapid Bucharest, echoed his coach’s comments as he insisted their London 2012 campaign has been a successful one.
He said: “We can take a lot of positives from these matches and they have done us a favour. We played without pressure and nobody had any expectations for us.
“It allowed us to play with the freedom to make mistakes and we have learned from them.”
Montenegro, who finished fourth in Beijing, were already assured a place in the quarter-finals and took control from the start with three goals before an Adam Scholefield effort opened his side’s account.
Glen Robinson and Rob Parker, whose performances have been one of the main positives from London 2012, added further scores as Team GB entered the half-time interval 8-3 down and struggling.
As the superior Montenegrins controlled the game with relative ease against the battling Brits, a sole effort from captain Craig Figes was all Team GB had to show for their efforts in the penultimate quarter.
A controversial 11th goal incensed Iordache as he earned himself a yellow card, and Montenegro hit another three without reply to see off the British challenge.
After the Brits left the Water Polo Arena to applause from the vociferous home crowd, it was left to 21-year-old driver Ciaran James to reveal the legacy he hopes London 2012 will have on water polo.
He said: “Hopefully it will mean more recognition across the country and people will stop asking me if it is all about horses in the water.”