2 Victories For Water Polo Women As Team SA Wrap Up World Champs
5 July 2022 – Team South Africa wrapped up their FINA World Championships campaign with the women’s water polo team finishing in 13th place and the men in 12th position.
The women’s side claimed two important victories – 14-11 over Colombia and 8-7 over Brazil to secure their 13th place.
“The world champs was fantastic for the ladies. This was the first time in history that a South African team managed to win two games at the world championships and got so close to another in terms of our Argentina game. We also improved all our scores, especially against the Netherlands,” said SA coach Delaine Mentoor.
“Overall, I’m very happy with our ladies’ performance, especially considering the time we had together. It was also a good and positive step forward knowing what’s to come – especially if we work with this group going forward,” she added.
Despite not managing to register a win in the tournament, SA men’s coach Vaughan Marlow believed the experience was invaluable for his side. Speaking after his team’s last game against Australia, Marlow said: “Playing against a lot of experienced teams was really good, because we learnt a lot from them; we need to play more and get better.”
In the diving events, Bailey Heydra finished 34th overall in the 1m springboard and 16-year-old Zalika Methula was 42nd while Grace Brammer and Kerry-Leigh Morrison finished 13th overall in the synchronised 3m springboard.
Inspired by competing in her first senior international event, Methula said: “I loved meeting and seeing many famous athletes that have inspired me my whole life. At first I was very nervous and scared to compete against all these amazing divers but once I got my first dive done my nerves slowly went away.
“Although it wasn’t my best competition, I’m very happy and proud to be representing South Africa at a senior level and at such a young age. Now I can finally say that my journey starts now and I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me and my coach.”
Methula’s coach, Danilo Congrossi, reckoned: “This was an unbelievable experience for her, now she is really determined and she can’t wait to start the training for the next big event in November which is the world juniors in Canada.
“Now she knows what to expect and she will compete with girls just two years older than her. She is also ready to give advice to the other two girls from our club that will participate, but in a younger category.”
Elsewhere, South Africa’s open water swimmers also gained valuable experience – many of them competing internationally for the first time.
18-year-old Catherine van Rensburg finished 18th in the 5km event in 1:00:55 and 28th in the 10km in 2:06:54 while Amica de Jager was 29th in the 5km in 1:01.03 and 22nd in the 10km in 2:06:00.
“The experience itself was unbelievable. I didn't quite know what to expect with it being my first world champs, so there were a lot of nerves beforehand,” admitted De Jager afterwards.
“But after my first race, I felt a lot more confident, less nervous and more sure of myself. It was an incredible learning opportunity because it's so rare that you can get the chance to test yourself against the best in the world.
“I am very happy with my performance and look forward to being able to take what I've learned, apply it in my training and to come back even stronger for it. This experience at worlds has given me an overflow of motivation and I can't wait for the next opportunity to race,” added the 20-year-old.
In the men’s races, Ruan Breytenbach finished 29th in the 5km swim in 57:54.90 and in only his second ever 10km swim finished in 22nd place in 1:55:40, while 19-year-old Connor Buck finished 28th in the 5km in 56:39.60 and 31st in the 10km in 1:59:42.
Grateful for gaining experience in the 5km before heading into the longer race, Breytenbach explained: “I managed to keep up with the front pack for a big part of the race. Gregorio [Paltrinieri] and Florian [Wellbrock] then made their move to spread the group.
“I fought hard to catch the group again, which I did for about another lap or so. Eventually I couldn’t keep up with the pace anymore, my shoulders started giving in and I felt like getting out due to being exhausted. I luckily found a British guy to swim with for the last two laps of the race. I skipped a feeding session to stay in his slipstream. We then battled to the finish and I haven’t felt more relief and peace in my life. The pain a person feels during a 10km is indescribable, especially when you’re exhausted.
“I’m surprised as to how hard I was able to push myself during these races and I am happy with my results as it was my first International open water competition.”
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