The Canadian water polo team passed its first successful test at the Fukuoka World Championships, winning 13-10 in a hard-fought duel against China in the opener of the men’s tournament.
The Canadian troop was quick to impose their rhythm on Monday, leading 4-0 at the end of the first quarter. However, the wind changed sides as soon as the game resumed, when the Chinese stormed the zone of the Canadian team.
Solid until then, the defense of the maple leaf showed signs of nervousness and it struggled to contain the numerous enemy attacks. The Chinese representatives took the opportunity to score six times, still conceding three goals to Canada, to narrow the gap to 7-6 at halftime.
The least we can say is that the break was beneficial for the men of driver Patrick Oaten who recovered their spirits afterwards. The two teams exchanged three goals in the third quarter, then the Canadians closed the game late in the game to race towards this important victory.
“Our game plan got us off to a really good start, but it was a bit more difficult after that. We have a young team and we are not yet used to finding ourselves in this kind of situation, ”confessed the Canadian coach at the end of the game.
“On the other hand, we were able to bounce back to keep the lead and that bodes very well for the future,” he added. We can say that our young players have gained a lot of experience today (Monday). »
If the youth was tested at the curtain raiser of these worlds, several veterans distinguished themselves for Canada, starting with Quebecers Aleksa Gardijan and Nicolas Constantin-Bicari, both authors of a hat trick on Monday.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but in the end it’s the win that counts. It was very important for us to win for the rest of the tournament and our youngest players gave a good performance. We’re very happy with that,” commented Constantin-Bicari, who is competing in his fifth worlds in Fukuoka.
Leo Hachem (2), Bogdan Djerkovic (2), Matthew Halajian, Jérémie Côté and Gaelan Patterson were the other scorers for Canada, which also counts Jérémie Blanchard, Aria Soleimanipak, Nikos Gerakoudis, David Lapins and Milan Radenovic among its ranks.
The country’s polo players will prepare for their next game on Tuesday, which will take place 24 hours later, against the powerful Italians, vice-world champions.
“They’re one of the best teams in the world, so it will be interesting to be able to play against them and see where we are in our progress,” said Constantin-Bicari. The key will be to keep our game plan, to be combative as long as possible and to present good collective play. We will want to give everything to show what we are capable of. »
A few days after finishing sixth in the technical solo, artistic swimmer Audrey Lamothe made sure to continue her momentum during the free solo preliminaries. His routine, good for a score of 167.3625, gave him eighth place in the session.
The Montrealer will therefore be back in the water for the final scheduled for Wednesday, where the 12 best athletes of the day will come together to try to win the honours.
For their part, Laurianne Imbeau, Raphaëlle Plante, Kiara Quieti and Florence Tremblay concluded their World Championships by helping Canada finish sixth in the team acrobatic competition won by China (238.0033).
The Quebecers swam alongside Jonnie Newman, Kenzie Priddell, Claire Scheffel and Olena Verbinska, with whom they scored 205.4900 for their last outing in Fukuoka.