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Feb 26 21

Fit-again Kinghorn all set for Midmar challenge

by ZwemZa

Robyn Kinghorn – supplied

Defending aQuellé Midmar Mile women’s champion Robyn Kinghorn has confirmed she will be among the swimmers taking part in the 2021 event.

Kinghorn and men’s winner Michael McGlynn completed a double for Durban swimmers in 2020. 

“Winning the 2020 aQuellé Midmar Mile was an extremely special moment for me, it still makes me smile thinking back to that race,” said the Varsity College student who will be hoping for a repeat performance next month.

This year the aQuellé Midmar Mile has been spread over two weekends – 6-7 March and 13-14 March, with organisers putting numerous measures in place to keep all swimmers safe and ensure the 2021 event is Covid-compliant.

Rather than a mass start with hundreds of swimmers in the race, Kinghorn will be part of a group of 20 elite swimmers contesting for the title in a specially arranged event on 7 March.

“I think the 2021 aQuellé Midmar Mile experience is going to be unique in comparison to anything we have seen before. I know that Wayne Riddin and his team are going to make it safe and professional for everyone and I am excited to be a part of it,” she said.

“I would have to say that although I am the defending champion from 2020, I choose to look at each race individually and not base it on previous results or even previous days. Each open water race is a new opportunity for me as there are so many different factors that can occur on the day.

“I think with the field being a lot smaller than usual it is going to make the swim a lot harder as we will be more aware of competitors, but I think that’s what makes open water swimming strategic and unique.”

Like her competitors, Kinghorn has had to regain her fitness after a tough lockdown period, which she admits was both a physical and mental challenge.

This past year with regards to Covid-19 has certainly been an eye opener for me. I think adaption and mental motivation were the most important aspects that I had to follow. I found ways to train in my home pool during our first lockdown, as well as having to regain fitness with limited access to swimming pools. Being a distance swimmer, it was tough mentally and physically not being able to train the kilometres that we normally would.

“But my training is going well at the moment, and I am happy with my fitness levels. Fortunately, my coach, Alisdair Hatfield, has found a few school pools for our club to train in which we are extremely grateful to have. It is also great to have the Prime Human Performance Institute supporting me with my fitness out of the pool.”

As for the challenge of defending her Midmar title, Kinghorn added: “I would definitely have to say that I am feeling excited. Both this year and last year I was just looking forward to being back at Midmar Dam doing what I love, surrounded by my competitors in the water and friends out.”

Like her fellow champion, McGlynn, Kinghorn is also hoping for a spot on the South African team to the postponed Tokyo Olympics in July.

“I do have my eye on the Tokyo Olympics, for which we will need to finish top two in the 10km at the South African Open Water Nationals at the end of March in order to go to the second qualification round in Tokyo. But for now, my main focus is on Midmar. I will be using the Midmar Mile to see where I am with my fitness and for any last adjustments,” she explained.

Meanwhile, organisers of the aQuellé Midmar Mile have reiterated that all measures are in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable swim for participants with no mass starts, no spectators, masks for all swimmers at the start and finish and other protocol in place.

For those who can’t make it to the dam, organisers have announced that a virtual version of the race has been made available, in association with sponsor 30 South.

Taking place on the 13 and 14 March, swimmers can take part anywhere in the world, and in doing so, register an official 2021 aQuellé Midmar Mile time. This can be done in a pool, the ocean, dam or river, as long as the swim is in line with all current Covid-19 restrictions, and a full mile (1,6km) is completed. Head to www.midmarmile.co.za for all the details.

Karien Jonckheere | aQuellé Midmar Mile

Feb 26 21

Around 1,000 Tokyo 2020 volunteers quit in February due to sexism row and COVID-19 concerns

by ZwemZa

Around 1,000 volunteers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have quit over the past month ©Getty Images

Around 1,000 volunteers for this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo have quit this month amid a sexism row involving the former head of the Organising Committee and continued concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Japan Today, Tokyo 2020 claimed the number of resignations was only a small percentage of the 80,000 volunteers recruited and that the drop in numbers would not impact the running of the Games.

Both the recent sexism row regarding former Tokyo 2020 President Mori and concerns about COVID-19 were cited as reasons for the volunteers quitting.

Mori was heavily criticised this month after making sexist remarks during a Japanese Olympic Committee meeting.

Hundreds of volunteers stepped down after he refused to resign from his position, despite organisers sending out an email which expressed Tokyo 2020’s “deepest apologies” and emphasised its vision of “diversity and harmony”.

As the public furore grew, Mori eventually quit and was last week replaced by Seiko Hashimoto, the former Olympics Minister.

There has also been speculation and uncertainty surrounding the staging of Tokyo 2020 over the past month due to the global health crisis.

The Japanese capital is still in a state of emergency due to the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

Another 30,000 volunteers have been separately recruited by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has not commented publicly on the number of resignations.

Some volunteers stepped down from their roles following the postponement of the Olympics from last year to July 23 to August 8.

They had originally been in a position to help, but changing circumstances meant they could no longer volunteer during the rescheduled dates.

Despite the dwindling popularity of Tokyo 2020 in Japan and the threat of COVID-19, organisers have remained adamant the Games will be staged this year.

Earlier this week, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach insisted that “everybody who wants to see can see that it is possible” to stage the Olympics safely.

 

Feb 25 21

Grand Prix gala an important gauge for Madibaz swimming twins

by ZwemZa

Madibaz swimming twins Alard and Alaric Basson have resumed training in earnest in preparation for the national Olympic trials. Photo: Supplied

Madibaz swimming stars Alard and Alaric Basson emerged from two national events in the Western Cape delighted to at last get some competitive swimming under their belts.

The Nelson Mandela University construction management students had their goals severely disrupted since March last year due to the lockdown.

In addition, they both contracted the coronavirus, side-lining them from physical activity for several weeks.

The training camp and Grand Prix gala in Stellenbosch last week proved a valuable gauge of their conditioning and the twins are rejuvenated for the challenges ahead.

For Alard, the camp could not have come at a better time

“It was a week of hard work followed by a weekend of tough racing,” he said.

“The camp gave us the opportunity to experience a competitive environment again after such a long time out.

“I personally haven’t raced in over a year so this was a fantastic opportunity to put in the hard work and to put my body through the intensity that it needs.”

He said his main goal was to make full use of the training block.

“This saw my body taking quite a knock, but I stood up and raced under those circumstances, still managing to win my main race (100m butterfly).

“I am not completely happy with the result, but I got what I wanted from the week and in that regard I am satisfied.”

Alaric had the same sentiments in terms of his conditioning.

“This camp was exactly what I needed to get back onto my feet in terms and where I found myself after lockdown,” he said.

The training environment and the fact that there were no distractions really helped me to improve quickly – physically and mentally.”

He added that it almost felt “foreign” to be back in the pool for the Grand Prix.

“It was as if you were kind of lost in the way to approach and execute certain races.

“But, after actually racing, it immediately felt like that memory came back and it gave me a good idea of where I am and what I need to work on.”

Both swimmers are now focusing on the national Olympic trials, even though there remains some uncertainty that the Tokyo Games will go ahead in July and August.

Alard acknowledged the challenges of the situation but said his focus was on controlling what he could.

“In terms of my preparation, it is quite a mental rollercoaster, but I am just aiming at giving myself the best opportunity to reach my goal by putting in the extra hours in the gym, working on specifics at training and oiling the mind to execute what I want to achieve.

“My ultimate goal this year is to swim the A qualifying time of 51.9 in the 100m butterfly.”

Alaric said although the current situation was “a bit difficult”, lockdown had taught him valuable lessons.

“I would say it is probably more enjoyable for me now because of the setbacks.

“I think this whole pandemic just opened a lot of eyes and really emphasised the fact that the dreams we chase are merely personal goals that ultimately are not the be-all and end-all of our lives.

“We put so much pressure on ourselves to hit certain times and at the end of it you have to wonder if the stress was really worth it.

“I think we just have to find the enjoyment in what we do. It took lockdown for me to fully realise that and I think that took quite a bit of pressure off me.”

Having said that, he acknowledged he still had goals to achieve.

“The priority for me is just to train well and do what I can to be the best I can be, and then take it as it comes without any regrets.”

Jesica Slabbert | Full Stop Comunications

 

Feb 25 21

IOC approves Brisbane as preferred host of 2032 Olympic Games

by ZwemZa

Brisbane is in pole position to land the hosting rights for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games ©AOC

Brisbane has taken a huge step towards securing the hosting rights for the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed the Australian region as its preferred candidate.

The IOC is set to open exclusive negotiations – or “targeted dialogue” – with Australian officials over staging the Games in 11 years’ time following the Executive Board’s decision to approve a recommendation from the Future Host Summer Commission during its remote meeting today.

insidethegames yesterday exclusively revealed that Brisbane would be installed as the IOC’s non-binding preferred bidder.

Kristin Kloster Aasen, the chair of the Future Host Summer Commission, said work would begin with Queensland officials “immediately” and results on the discussions will be presented to the Executive Board “in due course”.

Kloster Aasen suggested Queensland need only to submit documents and the required guarantees needed to host the Games before the commission is in a position to formally recommend Brisbane as the host for the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics.

While the Norwegian said it was “not a done deal”, it now appears all-but certain that Australia will host the Games for the first time since Sydney staged the event in 2000.

It is thought unlikely that the vote – where the IOC membership will be asked to green light a single candidate – will come at the Session planned to take place prior to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Kloster Aasen cited the “very advanced Games concept”, the masterplan being proposed by Brisbane, Australia’s “high level” of experience in hosting major events and the “strong support” for the bid from Government officials as the main reasons for the recommendation.

“This is an important next step in an ongoing dialogue with the Future Host Commission,” said AOC President and IOC vice-president John Coates.

“We are very clear that we must continue to work hard in outlining our vision for a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032.”

Today’s confirmation will come as a disappointment to countries, including Qatar, India, Indonesia, China, Germany and Hungary, who had expressed an interest in staging the Games in 2032.

The Future Host Commission chair said the German Olympic and Sports Confederation had earlier this month opted against entering what it calls the continuous dialogue phase with the group, but did not refer to any other possible bidders.

Brisbane is set to be the first city awarded a Summer Olympic Games under the IOC’s new process for selecting the host of its flagship event.

The IOC in 2019 established Future Host Commissions, which identify and recommend venues for the Games and enter into dialogue with prospective countries and cities over staging the Summer and Winter Olympics.

This has led to the previous approach of pitting competing cities against one another to host the Olympics for a given year and then announcing the winner seven years in advance being abandoned.

The old bidding system created “too many losers” among rejected host cities, who often spent millions of dollars on promoting their campaign and often never bid again, IOC President Bach has claimed.

The IOC will undoubtedly face criticism about a lack of transparency since Coates, head of the AOC and a close ally of Bach, chaired a working group in 2019 that examined changing the process for selecting a host city for 2032 onwards.

Bach insisted today that Coates had no input in the recommendation that the Future Host Commission begin exclusive talks with Brisbane over staging the 2032 Games.

The IOC President also rejected criticism regarding the new system, which sees a small group of members propose host cities to the ruling Executive Board.

Bach claimed the new process is “more low-cost, helps prevent any undue interference, makes it less political, and makes it more and more sober”.

He said the previous system “also led to governance problems” and saw candidates publicly attacking each other as part of their campaigns.

“This was not the best procedure, neither for the future of the Games nor the reputation of the IOC,” Bach said.

Feb 24 21

Queensland set to be installed by IOC as preferred bidder for 2032 Olympics

by ZwemZa


Queensland’s bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games is set to move into pole position at the IOC Executive Board meeting ©Getty Images

Queensland’s bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games could receive a potentially significant boost tomorrow when it is expected that it will be recommended to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board that the Australian state is installed as the preferred candidate.

The IOC’s Future Host Summer Commission, chaired by Norway’s Kristin Kloster Aasen, has been studying proposals from several cities and regions but has been most impressed by Queensland’s bid, insidethegames understands.

If the Executive Board accept the recommendation, then exclusive negotiations are set to be opened with Australian officials with a view to putting Queensland forward to the IOC Session to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032 if they go well.

It had been hoped this could be done as soon at this year’s planned IOC Session on the eve of the rearranged Olympics in Tokyo in July, but with the coronavirus pandemic still causing problems with the planning of the event, this now appears unlikely.

Any decision to position Queensland as the preferred bidder, however, will leave several other cities disappointed, particularly Doha.

The Qatar capital had targeted the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games as the next major event it wants to stage after the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2030 Asian Games, which it was awarded at the end of last year.

Budapest, an increasingly important hub for leading events and championships, had also hoped to put together a strong bid, as had Rhine-Ruhr in Germany.

Chinese cities Chengdu and Chongqing had also announced in December that they were planning to bid.

Jakarta in Indonesia, New Delhi in India, Istanbul in Turkey and Saint Petersburg in Russia were other cities exploring the possibility of bidding.

It also appears to end the already slim hopes of a joint bid from North and South Korean capitals Pyongyang and Seoul.

The IOC will undoubtedly face criticism about a lack of transparency since John Coates, head of the Australian Olympic Committee and a close ally of the IOC President Thomas Bach, chaired a working group in 2019 that examined changing the process for selecting a host city for 2032.

That led to the establishment of the Future Host Summer Commission, whose other members include IOC doyen Richard Pound from Canada, Italy’s Association of Summer Olympic International Federations President Francesco Ricci Bitti and New Zealand’s Olympic BMX silver medallist Sarah Walker.

This has led to the previous approach of pitting competing cities against one another to host the Olympics for a given year and then announcing the winner seven years in advance being abandoned.

The Future Host Summer Commission, which also includes International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, is now empowered to screen potential host cities in what the IOC calls “a continuous dialogue”.

Under the new system, the IOC collaborates with prospective countries and cities over time to develop and improve their chances of staging a successful Olympics, then bringing their bids forward when they are ripe for an up-or-down vote at the IOC Session.

The old bidding system created “too many losers” among rejected host cities, who often spent millions of dollars on promoting their campaign and often never bid again, Bach has claimed.

The seeds of Queensland’s bid were sowed during a successful Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast in 2018 and it has long been considered the front runner.

A feasibility study on the bid, with Brisbane as the centerpiece, was released by the Council of Mayors, a group representing South East Queensland, in early 2019.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced a hiatus to the bid during the coronavirus pandemic but it was revived in December.

The Queensland bid would use much of the infrastructure in operation at Gold Coast 2018.

There has been some local opposition, particularly due to the coronavirus pandemic, although bid leaders claim the Games would help to rebuild the region’s economy.

Duncan Mackay | Inside the Games

Feb 23 21

Defending champ McGlynn guns for another Midmar milestone

by ZwemZa

Michael McGlynn (Supplied)

Defending aQuellé Midmar Mile men’s champion Michael McGlynn admits the pressure will be on, but he is relishing the opportunity to race again when the event takes place under very different circumstances in 2021.

Last year proved to be something of a breakthrough event for the Durban swimmer as he powered past seven-time champion Chad Ho for victory.

This year, the aQuellé Midmar Mile is taking place over two consecutive weekends, 6-7 March and 13-14 March, in order to make it safer for all swimmers taking part. McGlynn will be part of a 20-strong field in a specially arranged elite event on 7 March, fighting for the title once again.

Like for all swimmers, it hasn’t been the easiest of build-ups for the 21-year-old, who also has a spot on the SA team to the Tokyo Olympics in his sights.

“Last year I half qualified for the 2020 Olympics in the 10km open water swim and I couldn’t get to the final round of qualifiers. It was tough because I came off such a high and went straight into a lockdown,” explained McGlynn.

That meant trying to train in gym and school pools for a protracted period of time.

“I had to stay in Pretoria for November just to train in a 50m pool. Then I travelled back to Durban for December to race any race possible because I hadn’t done much training. To top it off I swim distance freestyle, so it became a snowball effect,” he added.

Heading into the aQuellé Midmar Mile as defending champion, McGlynn is hoping he’s done enough.

“I think it adds more pressure but I’m happy to be in this race again. Midmar is always that first breakout swim of the year and where I broke through, so hopefully I can bounce back.”

Looking back on his 2020 victory, McGlynn added: “It was crazy. I remember getting to the front of the pack and leading. I had this realisation of ‘it’s me’, because I had never led a Midmar before.”

A good showing on 7 March will go a long way to boosting McGlynn’s confidence heading into Olympic qualifiers. He’ll need to finish top two in the national open water championships and then top nine at the next global qualifying event in order to make the team to Tokyo. He’s also gunning for a qualifying time and a top two position in the 800m freestyle in the pool.

But for now, the focus is on regaining his fitness and form and defending that Midmar title.

“This time I know what I want and I know what I’m fighting for this time around as I’ve gained a lot more experience,” he reckons.

The 2021 two-weekend aQuellé Midmar Mile will be different from usual with organisers putting plenty of measures in place to ensure a safe and Covid-compliant event. Among these measures is the fact that there will be no mass starts as is usually the case. There will instead be rolling starts with each swimmer’s time being recorded from when they cross the start mat to when they reach the finish. This means no swimmers will congregate at the start or be in close contact with each other. There will also be no spectators.

Thanks to event partners North Safety, swimmers will be issued with a disposable mask at registration, which they will wear to the water’s edge and then dispose of before swimming. They will then be handed another mask to put on immediately on leaving the water at the finish.

For more information on the aQuellé Midmar Mile, head to www.midmarmile.co.za or anyone with queries about their entry can contact the race office on 0861 643627 or email entries@midmarmile.co.za

Karien Jonckheere | aQuellé Midmar Mile

Feb 22 21

Ikee books Olympic qualifiers spot after leukaemia treatment

by ZwemZa

FILE PHOTO: Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee takes part in the swimming demonstration during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, which will host artistic swimming, diving, and swimming events at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Tokyo, Japan October 24, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee will compete in Olympic qualifiers in April after clinching a podium finish in her first 100 metres butterfly event since being treated for leukaemia.

Ikee, who was diagnosed in February 2019 and returned to action in August last year, finished in 59.44 seconds to win bronze at the Tokyo Open on Saturday.

The 20-year-old will now compete at the Japan Swim meet, the country’s only Olympic-qualifying event before the Tokyo Games which were rescheduled to begin on July 23.

The Japanese Swimming Federation’s Olympic qualifying bar stands at 57.10 seconds, while Rio 2016 finalist Ikee’s national record is 56.08 seconds.

“I can’t say that I’m aiming for it now,” Ikee said here when asked about her chances of competing at her home Olympics.

“When we start to get results that are world-class, we will think about it at that time.”

Ikee also won the 50-metres butterfly race, a non-Olympic event, with a time of 25.77 seconds.

Reuters

Feb 22 21

Schroeder and Alvarez earn two gold medals as virtual Artistic Swimming World Series begins

by ZwemZa


Anita Alvarez earned two gold medals at the first virtual Artistic Swimming World Series event ©Getty Images

Lindi Schroeder and Anita Alvarez of the United States earned two gold medals at the first virtual Artistic Swimming World Series event.

USA Artistic Swimming broadcast two days of pre-recorded routines on its own website and FINA TV, with commentary provided by mixed duet world champions Christina Jones and Bill May.

Coverage, including both technical events and free routines, was judged by International Swimming Federation (FINA) officials.

Schroeder and Alvarez triumphed in the technical duet on the opening day of competition.

The pair scored 83.4588 points for a routine created in a backyard pool during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kseniya Kuliashova and Aliaksandra Vysotskaya of Belarus claimed the silver medal with 80.4657, while Lara Mechnig and Marluce Schierscher of Lichtenstein were the bronze medallists after scoring 79.2052.

Schroeder and Alvarez, who are seeking qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, then won the free technical duet with 84.9333 points.

Vera Butsel and Hanna Koutson of Belarus placed second with a score of 81.7000 and were followed by Estefania Alvarez Piedrahita and Monica Arango Estrada of Colombia on 79.2667.

Emma Garcia and Pau Ribes also finished the competition with two gold medals.

The Spanish due were first victorious in the technical mixed duet, before winning the free mixed duet with a performance worthy of 82.2000.

Compatriots Maria Bofill Strub and Dennis Gonzalez Boneu were second with 77.9000.

Four-time Pan American Games champion Jacqueline Simoneau was the gold medallist in the women’s free solo event.

The Canadian scored 90.1000 to top the podium.

Alvarez made her debut as a soloist on the world stage and placed second with 87.1333, while Butsel achieved 82.8000 to finish third.

A men’s free solo event was held during the Artistic Swimming World Series for the first time ever.

It was won by May with 86.7333 points.

Spanish teenager Dennis Gonzalez Boneu was the runner up with 78.1333.

After the competition, Schroeder discussed the experience of competing in a virtual event.

“I like to compete and perform for the judges, other teams and a crowd,” Schroeder said.

“I had to remind myself that people will watch and judge our swims.

“Colombian duet partners Estefania Alvarez and Monica Arango indicated that before performing their routine, they missed the excitement of the other athletes on pool deck.

“That excitement, the tension that brings the adrenaline was missing.

“Strangely, the moment we walked onto the podium and the music started we were in competition mode and we felt excited.”

FINA approved the virtual Artistic Swimming World Series in December.

Canada will also air a virtual competition in May.

Nancy Gillen | Inside the Games

Feb 21 21

Montenegro and Greece reach Tokyo 2020 after making final of men’s Olympic water polo qualification tournament

by ZwemZa

Russia (blue caps) will have another chance to qualify for Tokyo 2020 when they face Croatia in tomorrow’s bronze medal match ©Getty Images

Montenegro and Greece qualified for the men’s water polo tournament at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after defeating Croatia and Russia in the semi-finals of the qualification competition in the Netherlands.

With the top three nations in the competition reaching Tokyo 2020 today’s semi-finals would reveal the identity of two of the countries that will be able to compete on the sport’s biggest stage.

The first semi-final at the Zwemcentrum in Rotterdam saw bitter rivals Montenegro and Croatia meet in a tight contest that was decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Only once during the match was there two goals between the sides when Montenegro led 7-5 in the third period.

Croatia scored four unanswered goals to take a 9-8 lead into the final period and had a chance to seal a win when they had possession leading 10-9 with less than 90 seconds to go.

They blew the opportunity allowing Montenegro to level with 24 seconds remaining to make it 10-10 and send the contest to penalties.

After penalties the final score was 14-12 to Montenegro although Croatia have another chance to reach Tokyo 2020 in tomorrow’s bronze medal match.

In the second semi-final Greece sealed their place at Tokyo 2020 after overcoming Russia.

Greece reached this stage by beating France in a penalty shoot-out and continued that momentum into today’s semi-final taking an early lead and never letting Russia get their noses in front.

Greece led 11-9 heading into the final period and after Russia spurned scoring opportunities Greece capitalised and put the match out of their opponents reach, eventually winning 13-10.

Croatia will now face Russia for bronze tomorrow and more importantly, the remaining berth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, while Montenegro and Greece will meet in the final of the qualification tournament.

Elsewhere today the first two contests took place to decide fifth through to eighth places, with hosts the Netherlands beating Georgia 14-11 and France overcoming Canada 11-9.

Those results mean Georgia and Canada will face off tomorrow for places seventh and eighth, before the Netherlands and France meet to contest places fifth and sixth.

Neil Shefferd | Inside the Games

Feb 20 21

Greece claim dramatic quarter-final win on penalties at men’s Olympic water polo qualifying tournament

by ZwemZa

Hosts The Netherlands were defeated in the quarter-finals of the men’s Olympic water polo qualification tournament ©Getty Images

Greece claimed a dramatic victory on penalties as the men’s Olympic water polo qualification tournament reached the quarter-final stage.

After coming through a winner takes all final group match against Romania yesterday, France were involved in another dramatic encounter, this time against Greece.

Greece were favourites heading into the contest following an emphatic win against the same opponents during a recent World League European preliminary match.

With more at stake on this occasion, things played out differently at the Zwemcentrum in Rotterdam with France going on a six goal unanswered streak during the second and third quarters.

Despite the French taking the lead with the Greeks scoring three unanswered goals to force penalties.

Greece were deadly in the shoot-out scoring all four penalties while their keeper Emmanouil Zerdevas came up with two saves to help them to a 17-14 win.

In the day’s opening game it was defeat for the hosts as they came up against Montenegro who raced into an early five goal lead.

The Netherlands stayed in touch but a three goal blitz in 111 seconds early in the final quarter gave Montenegro the breathing space to complete win.

The Dutch were completely shut-out in the final period as Montenegro completed a 13-7 victory.

In the day’s third quarter-final Rio 2016 silver medallists Croatia justified their favourites tag as they comfortably beat Georgia.

A five goal streak in the first half gave Croatia a big lead that they never looked like losing as they eventually ran out 15-6 winners.

The day’s final contest also went with the form book as Russia enjoyed a convincing win over Canada.

Russia opened up a five goal advantage in the second period but Canada stayed in touch, although five goals in the final period helped the Russians pull away and seal a 17-9 win.

The semi-final matches are scheduled to take place tomorrow with Montenegro up against arch-rivals Croatia and Greece taking on Russia.

Earlier in the day two classification matches are due to take place with the Netherlands facing Georgia and France up against Canada to decide places five to eight.

The top three sides at the end of the tournament, scheduled to conclude on Sunday (February 21) will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The Tokyo 2020 water polo competition is due to run from July 24 to August 8, with matches set to be held at the Tatsumi Water Polo Centre in Tokyo.

Neil Shefferd | Inside the Games

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