• Rowie Webster in action for the Stingers. (Water Polo Australia)Source: Water Polo Australia
Members of Australia’s water polo squad, the Stingers, found out they’re off to Rio in the greatest way.
By
Erin Byrnes

21 Jun 2016 - 8:30 AM  UPDATED 21 Jun 2016 - 8:30 AM

Almost every athlete we speak to at Zela says they were inspired to reach the highs of their sport by watching their heroes at the Olympics.

For many of the current generation of sports stars, their love of the game was ignited by Sydney 2000.

So how’s this for a cool idea - Australia’s Rio water polo squad were informed they’d made the squad by members of the legendary, gold medal winning Sydney 2000 team.

Imagine getting the news that you’re going to Rio, from the very person that inspired you to take up the sport. We tip our hats to you, Water Polo Australia.

Captain Bronwen Knox, who will line up for her third Olympics, got the phone call from Sydney 2000 player Simone Hankin.

“It was really surprising - it wasn’t a number recognised and I thought it might be a telemarketer,” Knox said.

“It was so special to talk to Simone - after two Olympics it was just a nice way to find out you’ve made the team.”

Gemma Beadsworth will also hit the water in her third Olympics, with Rowie Webster, Glencora McGhie, Nicola Zagame, Holly Lincoln-Smith and Ashleigh Southern all lining up for their second.

 They will be joined by six debutants: Keesja Gofers, Hannah Buckling, Kelsey Wakefield, Lea Yanitsas, Isobel Bishop and Zoe Arancini.

It will be the second time the surname Gofers will be called by commentators an Olympic Games, after Keesja’s sister Taniele represented Australia in Beijing in 2008.

“I got the call from Bron (Smith) from the Sydney team and I started to cry.” Gofers said.

“I’d spoken to Bron before but to have a one-on-one conversation with her was incredible. Her advice was really valuable – just reassuring me not to be nervous, I’ve been here a million times before and when the whistle goes I’ll know what I need to do.”

Quick shots from left field: Keesja Gofers
Water polo player Keesja Gofers has just arrived home from the FINA World League in China with a bronze medal but that doesn't mean she gets out of answering our questions.

The Stingers were bronze medallists in both London and Beijing, and go to Rio as one of the favourites.

They recently took bronze in the FINA World League Finals.

The Australian Women’s Water Polo team will face Russia, Italy and Brazil in the preliminary rounds, with the USA looming as the toughest competition.

The squad