Birth and staleness force Aussie Sharks captain Whalan to have year-long break
Aussie Sharks men’s water polo captain Thomas Whalan is taking a year away from international competition. He and former international swim star wife Elka (nee Graham) are expecting their first baby and the 264-game veteran for the Sharks told his team-mates by email that his focus and motivation since the Rome FINA World Championships last July has not been 100 per cent.
Triple Olympian Whalan (29) played professionally for Savona in the rich Italian league last year and has returned to play for Barceloneta in the Spanish League this season. The birth of the child in June comes just before the height of the international season with the FINA World Cup and the FINA World League Super Finals, both in July.
Aussie Sharks head coach John Fox said he was hoping that Whalan would be fresh and motivated in time for the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China, in the crucial lead-up to the 2012 London Olympic Games. He’s in the same situation as Jamie Beadsworth and Sam McGregor, who both took a year off after the Beijing Olympics and have come back completely refreshed. Sam (McGregor) had a baby last year and rested for the same situation.
Whalan’s absence will give some younger players a chance to hit the big stage while Fox has named a new leadership team in New South Welshman McGregor and Queenslanders Anthony Martin and Robbie Maitland.
Whalan broke through into senior ranks at the 1999 Sydney FINA World Cup and has played constantly for the Sharks and various European club teams since then. He has won two FINA World League bronze medals, a world junior silver medal, a World Student Games bronze, contested three Olympic Games, five FINA World Championships, one World Cup and two Commonwealth Championships.
He has been captain of the Sharks since 2005 after four years as vice-captain and told his team-mates: After 10 years I need this break to make some personal/career changes and to decide whether or not I have the motivation to continue to 2012.