FIONA McCann believes the London 2012 Olympic Games has had a hugely positive impact on Great Britain women’s water polo team, writes Alex Rae
McCann and her team surged to the quarter-finals in the capital last summer and their success at the Games has seen their funding rise significantly.
Participation figures have also risen sharply, meaning British water polo bosses are now able to focus their attentions on grass roots level.
McCann, from Chester, said: “The profile has definitely been raised and we’ve a lot more young people coming in from schools now.
“People actually know what the sport is now and people are coming to us and telling us what they’ve been doing instead of asking if there is a horse involved.
“We did receive £1.5m before the Olympics and that was to be shared between the men’s and the women’s teams but now we’ve got £4.54m just for the women’s team. In percentage terms we’ve got the biggest increase because of course it’s a big step up.
“It’s huge for us to have that amount of money because it means we’ve got more freedom to work on the grassroots level.
“Before the Olympics we knew we were limited with the funding so we knew in order to get more funding we had to perform in London.”
Last month’s World Championship performances in Barcelona have provided a good platform as the long journey to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games begins.
Britain’s women’s team have undergone drastic changes of late with former head coach Szilveszter Fekete leaving the role after eight years in charge.
Paul Metz has taken interim charge of the side until a new coach is appointed in September but McCann thinks this has given her and her team-mates a new lease of life.
“The World Championships was more of a learning experience really because since the Olympics last year we’ve had a massive shift in the programme,” said McCann, 26, who scored four goals at the London Olympics.
“The results we came out with we weren’t happy about, but I think how we played in the matches for part of them we were happy.
“It was a new team because almost half of the side had retired after the Olympics and for a lot of the younger players it was their first major competition.
“We’re looking toward Rio and focusing on our longer-term goals. This tournament was just a part of that learning curve.
“For us we’d rather perform well in Rio than in the World Championships so this is the start of a long journey now.”
Great Britain were handed some tough ties during the World Championships but did give a strong Canadian outfit a scare before going down 14-9.
The team are now turning their attentions to qualification for next summer’s European Championships in Budapest.