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London 2012: Bluffer’s guide to water polo
A women’s event for this fast and physically demanding sport was introduced to the Olympic programme in 2000. For success, players need to be excellent swimmers, have strength and stamina and the ability to play in a team.
Venue: Water Polo Arena, Olympic Park
Date: July 30 – August 9
Ball under: When a player fouls by taking or holding the ball underwater as an opponent tackles them.
Swim-off: This marks the start of each period. Both teams race for the ball in the centre of the field of play.
Exclusion area: Excluded players must wait in this area outside the field of play before they are allowed to continue playing.
Free throw: A free throw is given if the ball crosses the sideline or a player commits a foul that doesn’t warrant a penalty throw.
Dry pass: A pass designed to be caught before the ball hits the water.
Eggbeater: This powerful way to tread water is also used in synchronised swimming.
There are seven players in a team; a goalkeeper and six ‘outfield’ players. Games at London 2012 will take place in 25m long, 2m deep pitches across four eight-minute periods.
The goals at either end, which sit on top of the water, are 3m wide and 90cm high and the aim is to score as many goals as possible in the opponent’s net. Each team has 30 seconds to score before the ball passes to the opposition.
Players may not touch the bottom or side of the pool during a match and only the goalkeeper is permitted to have both hands on the ball at the same time.
If a major foul is committed that player is temporarily excluded for 20 seconds. If three major fouls are committed by any one player in a game they are sent off for the remainder of the match.
One to watch
Fran Leighton, who has been captain of the GB squad since 2002, and Rosemary Morris.
Olympic rivalry? The Netherlands claimed gold at Beijing 2008 whilst Greece won last year’s FINA World Water Polo Championship
Who’s the gold medal favourite? It’s a tough call. Although a gold medal isn’t likely, the GB team may have a chance of medalling – they’re continually improving and training in the Hungarian domestic league will have done wonders for their Games preparation.
Who to follow on twitter…
Water Polo Olympic fact
The whole competition will see approximately 800 Water Polo balls used.
Check out this video of the Great Britain and USA women waterpolo teams clash in the Olympic Waterpolo arena ahead of the London 2012 Olympics:
The Women’s Sports Magazine