The men’s national water polo team will wave the Greek flag in the 2012 London Olympics this summer, earning its ticket to the event through a qualification tournament at the Kinsmen Sports Centre in Canada early Saturday.
Greece defeated the hosts with a 10-6 score, eliminating the Canadians in the quarter-final at Edmonton in the tournament’s playoffs. The team is excited to return to the Olympics after a four year absence from the international scene of water polo.
The Greeks finished third in their qualifying group at Edmonton and had to face the Canadians in the all-important playoff for a place in London, but were on top of the game throughout, leading 2-1 after the first period and 4-2 at half-time.
Canada came into the game having finished second in their pool rankings after a hard-fought loss to Spain on Thursday. They knew they were in for another tough encounter against Greece, who are a more experienced group.
When Manolis Mylonakis made it 9-5 at the start of the last period, it was obvious that Greece would be in the Olympics for the 12th time in its history of the sport. Giorgos Afroudakis led Greece’s scoring with the game-high four goals.
The men’s water polo team has become the first from all team sports in Greece to advance to the Olympics, with the women’s team–the reigning world champions–about to fight for a ticket soon.
Team members have already bought their tickets to London, and Greece has wished them good luck.