Europeans set to dominate
The new Waterpolo Arena at the London Olympic Park, will host the 2012 waterpolo tournament between July 28 and August 12.
Twelve men’s and eight women’s teams from around the globe will vie for the top medals and a place in history.
Countries of the old continent have always been in the forefront on the world waterpolo stage.
With one exception when the USA won the top place on the podium in the 1904 summer Olympics, European representatives have never failed to clinch the gold medal.
Hungary dominated with nine successes, followed by Great Britain with four, three each for Yugoslavia and Italy, two for the Soviet Union and one each for Spain, Germany and France.
As for the women’s tournament Australia are the only non European team to win gold.
That was in 2000 and the Aussies were followed by Italy and Holland in the next Games.
This year the Europeans are again confident of making their presence felt in the men’s tournament.
The 12 teams will be divided into two groups as per draws made on May 5, with European countries all challenging for a place in the last eight of the competition.
If this lofty target is achieved the feat of 1936 and 1964 of 100 per cent European representation in the last eight of the competition will be repeated, never mind the non-participation of teams from other continents on those two occasions.
It should also be recalled that in the 2005 and 2007 editions of the FINA World Championship, it was a European en plein as the men’s competition reached the quarter-final stage.
In London, nine European men’s and five women’s teams will be in the line-up.
The top three nations from the European Championship in January, Serbia, Montenegro and Hungary, will meet one another in the group stage.
Surprise qualifier Romania also join them, with hosts Great Britain and the USA completing the six-team Group B.
The other group comprises world champions Italy, Croatia, Greece and Spain from Europe, while Australia and Kazakhstan from other continents complete the six-team line-up.
As can be envisaged, the European mainland stands a great chance of filling all the berths in the last eight of the tournament, with their pedigree being better than that of Great Britain, Kazakhstan and possibly Australia and the United States.
The women’s competition presents, a more or less, similar scenario.
Hungary, Spain, China and the USA are in Group A while European champions Italy are joined by Great Britain, Russia and Australia in Group B.
Surprise absentees will be Olympic and ex-Euro champions Holland and Greece respectively, after they failed to qualify.
In a nutshell, Europe is poised to pull most of the strings in London and lay a claim for the majority, if not all, of the six Olympic medals at stake.
The world’s elite nations will be in action for a whole two weeks and all enthusiasts of the game will be focused on what is envisaged to be a spectacle of waterpolo.