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Thompson outlines Olympic Water Polo plan

13th May 2013

Graeme Thompson, the National Performance Director for British Water Polo, has set out his agenda for the Rio 2016 Olympic cycle as he begins his tenure at the helm.

Thompson joined British Swimming in April 2013 and has been tasked with a key objective to build on the progress the team has made in the past few years, qualifying for the European Championships for the first time in 15 years in 2012 and the experience gained from competing at the London 2012 Olympics.

We now need to move the players on and start turning over more regularly some of the top teams.

The primary focus will be to gain Olympic qualification for Rio 2016 and to improve on their London performance results.

“The team have made significant progress in the past few years. We now need to move the players on and start turning over more regularly some of the top teams,” said Thompson.

“The ladies have great potential and their ability has been demonstrated in their results over the past couple of years, beating World Champions Greece and finishing seventh at the 2012 LEN European Championships.

“I am now looking for a new Head Coach to drive the team forward and take us up to the next stage. I believe we have a fantastic opportunity here at the High Performance Centre in Manchester with the additional funding from UK Sport.”

Water Polo was one of the few team sports to be awarded funding from UK Sport in December, and saw a rise from £2.9m shared between both the men’s and women’s squads to £4.5m allocated solely to the women’s programme. 

With this funding secured until March 2017, Thompson believes that working in the sport will be an exceptional opportunity for numerous high level coaches in the Water Polo world.

“There has never been such an exciting time in British Water Polo,” he explained. “With four years of funding guaranteed, this is ample time to establish and grow the team and it presents a significant international opportunity for a coach to get involved with a growing sport in the UK as the team look ahead to Rio qualification.

“Whilst the funding is important, also is working within the elite sporting environment in Great Britain at this time. There is a great system, which is driving success in a wide range of sports and we enjoy being part of that. Only this week, I had a very useful meeting with the Head of Research and Innovation at UK Sport, who has worked very closely with both British Cycling and British Rowing in the recent past.

"We are looking to work from these types of sources of information and move our programme along significantly. Fundamental to driving this programme, will be the Head Coach, who will have access to a range of support services in creating a strong overall programme.

"I believe we have the players capable and we are an emerging force in Water Polo. Spain and China were in a similar position a few years ago and now they are regular force to be reckoned with on the world stage. I believe we have the talent within the senior team along with a developing pathway for out talent programme.

"Significantly our juniors are competing in the U20s World Championships this year, which is exactly the type of competition we want to be competing in regularly.”

Paul Metz is the interim women’s head coach in the run up to and during the World Championships in Barcelona this summer before a permanent replacement will be recruited.

It will require hard work and commitment but all the most rewarding challenges in life do.

Thompson concluded by saying, “I have already received a number of applications for the post to take us into Rio 2016. This doesn’t surprise me as I do believe that we are on an upward trajectory, well funded and working in an exciting period for British sport. However it will require hard work and commitment but then all the most rewarding challenges in life do.”

This summer the British Gas GBR Women’s Water Polo Team will compete in their first World Championships for 10 years.

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