TEAM GB water polo stars Fiona McCann and Hannah Wild have started raising money to prepare for the 2012 Olympics after UK Sport postponed a decision on funding.
McCann, from Great Boughton, and Wild, from Chester, have risen quickly to the top of the British game. Along with their international team-mates, they have set out to secure sponsorship deals for the team and individuals to help fund their London Olympic dream.
Team members must train three times a day to keep fit and focus everything they do on performance.
“Water polo is a really tough sport requiring very high levels of swimming fitness, ball skill, strength and team- work,” said former Christleton High School sixth former McCann.
“At the moment it is much better known in East European and Mediterranean countries than here, although we aim to change that by bringing the sport to the attention of as many people as possible.”
When UK Sport – which directs the development of sport within the home countries – announced which Olympic disciplines would receive funding, water polo was told that a decision would be put on hold until the end of January.
So with preparations for the next Olympics already under way, the team has decided not to wait for an announcement and try to bridge the gap with private sponsorship.
Both McCann, 21, and Wild, 23, started their careers at City of Chester Swimming Club but quickly moved to City of Liverpool.
Wild made her GB debut at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona while McCann, who played just one game for City of Chester before Liverpool recruited her, competed for the first time in the 2006 Commonwealth tournament in Perth, Australia.
The duo are currently in Athens with Liverpool competing against some of the strongest club sides in Europe in the Ligue Européenne de Natation (LEN) Trophy.
They return in the middle of the month to the Manchester Aquatic Centre, where the British water polo team is based, for the final round of national league games including the title decider between reigning champions Liverpool and challengers Manchester.
City of Chester’s latest rising stars Hayley Langridge and Jenny Lee will also be there with the GB Youth and GB Junior teams respectively.
Anyone interested in sponsoring individual players or British water polo events like the European Nations Championship in Manchester in July can contact Joanna Wray, world class programmes manager for British water polo, at email@example.com, or call Brian McCann, treasurer of City of Chester Swimming Club, on 0151 705 3520.