Matilda Kearns, daughter of former Wallabies captain Phil Kearns, is set to make her Olympic Games debut after being selected in the Aussie Stingers water polo team for the Tokyo Games.
Kearns, 20, will become the fourth youngest women to represent Australia in water polo at the Olympics after being included in a team with a proud Games history and rated a strong chance to bring home a medal.
There is also a footballing family connection for another Olympic debutante with 24-year-old Bronte Halligan, the daughter of former New Zealand rugby league international Daryl Halligan.
“I remember sitting there with my mum watching the 2004 Athens Olympics and said to her ‘I’ll be the one of your kids to take you to an Olympics,” Halligan said.
Our #AussieStingers journey to the Olympic Games has been one of resilience and inspiration… one that so many family, friends and supporters have shared in.
When they step onto pool deck in Tokyo, it will mean more than ever before…💛💚💛💚
WATCH 👉 https://t.co/D0e4MfUK4O
— Water Polo Australia (@WaterpoloAus) May 24, 2021
“Back then, I didn’t even know what water polo was, but I knew I wanted to go to the Olympics.
“As soon as I didn’t make the (2016) Rio team, I said to my parents that I would not be giving up and was even more determined I would be there come Tokyo.”
At the other end of the experience spectrum, Bronwen Knox will become the first Australian woman to compete in water polo at four Olympics.
The 35-year-old Queenslander made her Olympic debut in Beijing 2008 and also went to the London 2012 and Rio 2016.
Bringing just as much experience is 33-year-old Rowie Webster, who will captain in her third Olympics.
Rio Olympians Zoe Arancini Keesja Gofers, Hannah Buckling and Lea Yanitsas return for their second Games, while Kearns, Halligan, Abby Andrews, Elle Armit, Lena Mihailovic, Gabriella Palm and Amy Ridge jmake their debuts.
The team will start their campaign at Tokyo’s Tatsumi Water Polo centre on July 24.
Australia is drawn in Pool A with European champions Spain, Netherlands, Canada and South Africa.