After five days of intense matches at the Women’s Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Trieste, Hungary and the Netherlands successfully secured their places to the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
This week’s tournament presented the last chance to secure a place at the games, with two nations (the finalists) out of the eight going through.
Everything was decided during the ‘Super Saturday’ semi-finals, when the Netherlands faced Greece, while Hungary took on Italy.
With its 7‑4 victory over Greece, the Netherlands became the first team to secure its place at this year’s Olympics.
After trailing behind Greece with one score difference at the end of second quarter, the Netherlands was able to tie the game at the beginning of the third quarter, and lead until the end.
Simone van de Kraats, the player of the match, told FINA: “We had to stay calm and we did that. We made the difference in the third and fourth quarters and they [Greece] didn’t have time to tie.
“We’re so happy that we are finally at the Olympics. It’s amazing, this feeling.”
However, everyone’s eyes were peeled at the Hungary vs. Italy game, as both teams fought to return to the Olympic stage.
Hungary took the lead from the beginning of the game, finishing the first quarter 3‑1 . Italy kept trying to catch up, but never tied the game and the match finished with final score 13‑10 to Hungary.
Attila Biro, the Hungary head coach, commented for FINA: “It was a really tough game. Our goalie was a little bit better than the Italian goalie and I think we had huge mental power. The key was to be calm until the end of the game and push hard in defence.”
Both Hungary (the 2020 European Championship bronze medallist and the semi‑finalist for the last three Olympic Games) and Netherlands (Beijing 2008 champions, who failed to qualify for the last few games) will join eight other teams who have already qualified.
Tokyo 2020 Women’s Water Polo Qualified Teams:
- Japan (hosts)
- United States (2019 FINA World League winners, defending Olympic champions)
- Spain (2019 FINA World Championships runners-up to USA)
- Canada (2019 Pan American Games runners-up to USA)
- Australia (Oceania continental selection)
- South Africa (Africa continental selection)
- Russia (2020 European Championship runners-up to Spain)
- China (2018 Asian Games winners)
- The Netherlands (Olympic Qualification Tournament)
- Hungary (Olympic Qualification Tournament)
Featured image credit: waterpolo.nl