Former New Zealand water polo forward Joe Kayes became an Australian citizen in 2015 and in Rio, 2016 he pulled on the green and gold cap for his Olympic debut. Kayes was one of Australia’s top scorers of the 2016 Olympic competition with a total of eight goals to his name.
The Aussies lined up against the Brazilian hosts in their opening Game of the 2016 Olympics, but the roars from the home crowd proved to be too much as the boys narrowly went down 8-7. In their second pool game, the Aussies bounced back to secure a 9-9 draw with powerhouse Hungary, before they recorded an 8-6 win over Japan in game three.
Determined to try and secure Australia’s first ever men’s water polo medal, the Aussies then lined up with eventual Gold medallists Serbia and after a hard fought battle went down 10-8. Hungary defeating Brazil resulted in a fifth place finish in their pool for the green and gold, meaning the Aussies would not progress to the quarter-final stage.
Kayes, who was born in Auckland, played water polo in New Zealand until he was 17. He then moved to Europe and spent four seasons playing professionally in Hungary where he has two national championship titles to his name.
No water polo player from New Zealand has matched the professional success of Kayes, making him the country’s best ever water polo player. The half-Kiwi and half-Samoan athlete has forged a reputation as one of the best centre forwards in the world.
Kayes moved to Australia in 2014 and played in the National League for the WA Fremantle Mariners. He was forced to sit out of the 2015 World Championships in Russia as FINA rejected his request for a change of sporting citizenship – however the decision was overturned and he was given the green light to represent Australia in May 2016.
Kayes position on the Rio 2016 team was confirmed after his performances at the 2016 World League Intercontinental Tournament in Japan and the 2016 World League Super Final in China where Australia placed 2nd and 5th respectively, with Kayes being one of Australia’s top goal scorers.