OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Women’s water polo side suffer opening defeat
By Sean-Paul Doran, Sportsbeat, London 2012
GREAT Britain women’s water polo coach Szilveszter Fekete was defiant despite seeing his side suffer an agonising defeat to in their first-ever Olympic appearance.
NARROW LOSS: Great Britain's ladies suffered a one-goal defeat to Russia in their opening London 2012 Olympic Games match
The Brits fell to a narrow 7-6 defeat against a heavily-fancied Russia in their opening London 2012 game at the Water Polo venue, but there were plenty of encouraging signs for the home side.
And former Hungary goalkeeper Fekete believes Team GB will be stronger for the experience as they chase Olympic success in home water.
He said: “Today we proved we were ready for these Games and I expect even better performances in the upcoming matches.
“All we want to prove is that this is an eight-horse race, not just seven."
All eight teams in the competition will qualify for the knockout stages but success in the group stages could set up a favourable draw for Team GB.
A Francesca Painter-Snell penalty opened the scoring with Team GB’s first ever goal in the competition, before goals from Chloe Wilcox and Angie Winstanley-Smith rewarded the crowd for their raucous support.
Fiona McCann scored a fourth before Winstanley-Smith netted again as the sides entered the half-time break tied at 5-5.
The Brits entered the final period a goal down and a Winstanley-Smith third looked set to secure a point but the Russians scored with just four minutes remaining to claim the win.
Captain Fran Leighton echoed her coach’s defiant words as they look to prove they can compete with the sport’s powerhouses, including Beijing bronze medallists Australia, who they face on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old centre forward admitted her side were unlucky against the Russians, and promised her side would be thorough in their preparations as they look to build on their solid start.
She said: “First, I need to sit down as my legs are killing, then we have a full training session in the morning as we know it's going to be tough on Wednesday.
“I'm a little tired right now, but it was a great game. We deserve to be here and it was good to be able to prove this.”
© Sportsbeat 2012