Following in his father’s footsteps, West Australiana Tim Cleland first participated in the sport of water polo at the age of 13. He competed at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships, following a break from the sport. He performed strongly at the 2012 Pan Pacific Championships, scoring 7 goals and winning the silver medal with his team.
Cleland was selected to make his Olympic debut at the London 2012 Games. After losing three of their first four matches, the Australians knocked off Greece 13-8 to book a spot in the quarter-finals against Serbia. The Aussies took a 7-4 halftime lead before going down 8-11 to the eventual bronze medallists. Cleland finished with five goals in the competition.