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Dean looks proudly back on Baku 2015 Games

Team GB water polo captain Izzy Dean insisted the Brits’ could be proud of their Baku 2015 European Games campaign after finishing 11th overall.

The Brits defeated Israel 10-5 in their last match of the Games to finish their challenge on a high after seven matches in as many days.

Defeat to Serbia in their penultimate game ultimately cost the Brits a top 10 place – their target going into the tournament, having snuck through the qualifiers on goal difference earlier in the year.

“It was definitely a great start for our water polo careers,” – Izzy Dean.

But Dean was adamant the team would only take positives from their experience in Baku, having played three of the top six European water polo nations in the form of Greece, the Netherlands and Hungary, for the first time in the careers of all but one of the squad.

“We learned so much,’’ said Dean. “It was just an invaluable experience for us all.

“It was our first time competing in such a high multi-sport event, and all of us but one had never competed in a European Water Polo Championships before. So it was definitely a great start for our water polo careers.

“I think a lot of the time we were scared to take the shot when it was on. And [we need] to improve our defence as a team, which I’m sure will come with more practice.

The British water polo development stream lost its government funding after the London 2012 Olympic Games, leaving the players needing to raise funds on their own. The British women held raffles and bake sales and packed bags at grocery stores to help raise cash.

And while she admitted GB’s final game victory was somewhat bittersweet, having not realised the team’s goal of reaching the top 10, Dean conceded it was always going to be a challenge stepping up against funded and experienced rivals.

“Competing out here has been amazing,” added Dean. “None of us knew what it was going to be like, and it completely passed all our expectations.

“Although we did play really well and we have to be happy with the result, we are all going to be a little disappointed that we didn’t get a little bit higher up.

“None of us knew what it was going to be like and it completely passed all our expectations,” – Izzy Dean

“We were hoping for a top 10 finish so obviously there’s going to be a little bit of disappointment that we didn’t get that. But overall, we’re happy.

“Our funding was cut, so it’s been very hard for us. We’re still all at school full-time. We just have to try and balance our school and our training. But hopefully we’ll be back on the international stage in the future.”