Woods takes giant step towards fourth Olympics23 May 2011
Balmain stalwart Gavin Woods has taken another giant step towards a fourth Olympic Games by being named in the Australian Sharks men’s water polo team for next month’s European tour that culminates in the FINA World League Finals.
Woods has been named in a squad of 15 to attend a training camp in Hungary and lead-up tournament in Italy before the team is cut to 13 for the World League in Florence from June 21-26.
Barring injury or loss of form the same core group of players will contest the FINA World Championships in Shanghai in July as the Sharks build a team capable of winning a medal at the London Olympic Games 12 month later.
Woods selection caps a remarkable return to the big stage for the hulking centre forward who retired from international water polo following Australia’s eighth place at the Beijing Olympics.
If he is selected in the team for next year’s Games Woods will join all time greats Peter Montgomery and Andrew Kerr as the only Australians to have played in four Olympic Games water polo tournaments.
“After Beijing I returned and I honestly thought that was it and I was no chance to play at that level again,” Woods, whose sister Taryn won gold for Australia at the Sydney Olympics and father David is a dual Olympian, said.
“But I had lots of people come up and tell me I should have another go and my work is very positive and supportive and they encouraged me. I then had a good long think about it I thought this is my last chance, I wont be able to do this again.
“I am committed to it now and obviously I’d like to get to London, it’s the ultimate goal and going on this tour and playing international water polo again is a step forward.
“This tour is the start in allowing me to see where I am at and to see if I can contribute to the team in the way I need to.”
Woods said the squad had a great mix of youth and experience.
“There are six guys in the squad from the Beijing Olympics and then some of these young talented guys coming through and it’s the perfect mix really,” he said.
Australian Sharks Squad:
Joel Dennerley NSW - (USC-USA)/Wests, Luke Quinlivan WA - Perth
Mitch Baird NSW - Hunter, Joel Swift WA - Fremantle, Gavin Woods NSW - Balmain
Richie Campbell NSW - Wests, Tim Cleland WA - Fremantle, Rob Maitland Qld - (Barcelona- Spain)/Syd Uni, Anthony Martin Qld - (Sabadell Spain)/Breakers, Aaron Younger WA - (Szeget- Hungary)/Fremantle
Left Hand Side
Rhys Howden Qld - Brisbane, Sam McGregor (Captain) VIC - Tigers, Aidan Roach NSW – (Zak Serbia)/Drummoyne
Right Hand Side
Johnno Cotterill NSW - (Chios Greece)/ Wests, Billy Miller QLD - Breakers
Australian Water Polo Inc