Water Polo draws allow great promotion of Barcelona 2013

BCN2013 - Water Polo

The water polo teams participating in the 15th FINA World Championships, to be held from July 19-August 4, 2013 in Barcelona (ESP) know already their opponents in the preliminary round of both the men’s and women’s tournaments. The draw for the competition took today place in the studios of TVE (the host broadcaster of the championships) in Sant Cugat (near the Catalan capital) and was broadcasted live in all the Spanish territory. The normally not-so interesting ceremony was this time an excellent opportunity to promote the championships and to give an appetizer to all those that intend to watch FINA’s major competition, either on site or in the TV screen.

Besides the draw (results can be found here), the one-hour ceremony presented all the six FINA disciplines included in the programme – for the first in Barcelona, High Diving (27m for men and 20m for women) will be part of the World Championships celebration – and interviewed many of the Spanish stars that are actively preparing for the event.

In Swimming, Melanie Costa, winner of the 400m free at the 11th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Istanbul (TUR) last December and narrowly eliminated (9th) from the Olympic finals of the women’s 200m and 400m free, is obviously confident: “To repeat the success of Istanbul will be very difficult, but I am training hard not to fail the decisive races like happened in London”, she said.

Seated next to her, Erika Villaecija, will compete in open water swimming. A native from Barcelona, she considered that this circumstance is “always special” but will add “some additional pressure”. Winner of the 800m free at the 10th FINA World Swimming Championships Dubai 2010 and eighth in the 10km marathon swimming race at the 2012 Olympics, Villaecija will be one of the few Spanish athletes who was part of the team when in 2003 the Catalan capital hosted the championships.

In Diving, Javier Illana is also a veteran. Specialist of the 3m springboard, he was in Barcelona 2003 and found his motivation to continue in 2013 after an encouraging Olympic final in London. “My good results in the Games gave me that additional ‘boost’ to continue. I am training in Canada, and the superb atmosphere and competitive spirit I find there, will certainly be very useful for the outcome of my performance here in Barcelona”, declared Illana. The 27-year old diver was also very sincere when asked if he could switch “pool” diving by high diving, the new discipline entering the programme of the Championships: “No, no, I prefer to stay at 3m, still very close from the water!” he confessed laughing.

In recent years, Synchronised Swimming has been one of the most successful aquatic disciplines for Spain, but the last months have been marked by some turbulence in the team, namely with the exit of its charismatic coach Anna Tarres. Ona Carbonell, one of the most talented athletes of the squad was in the TVE studios to help choosing the balls for the draw, but was naturally asked to share her feelings on the preparation for the Barcelona rendezvous. “Our work is in the water! It must remain like this and we are fully concentrated in improving our routines, so that we cannot disappoint our many fans in Barcelona. This city has a special meaning for synchro and we must respect this tradition”, stated Carbonell, who has two Olympic and nine World Championships medals.

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Gianni Lonzi, FINA TWPC Chairman, assisted by former water polo star Jordi Sanz (left) and Ona Carbonell (synchro)

In Water Polo, of course, the expectations in Spain are also high, namely after the silver medal of the women’s team at the 2012 Olympics. Jennifer Pareja, member of that successful team, commented the upcoming World Championships at home: “We are still inside that ‘dream’, the one that allowed us to get an Olympic medal. But we must now focus on our performance in Barcelona; playing home is always a motivation and our credentials are now much higher than before”, said Pareja. “We want to avoid USA [the 2012 Olympic winner] and to meet them only in the final, if possible!” For the women’s tournament, Spain will meet Russia, Netherlands (2008 Olympic champion) and Uzbekistan in the preliminaries.

In the men’s field, Felipe Perrone, who helped his team to reach the silver in Rome 2009 and bronze in Melbourne 2007, says that “Spain is prepared for everything. We are playing in an historical pool – the Picornell complex -, and after our deception in London we immediately started to prepare our participation in Barcelona”. The Spanish squad will play against Montenegro, Greece and New Zealand in the earlier stages of the men’s tournament.

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The mascot of the Championships and the players of the Spanish water polo men's and women's teams