Wednesday, December 1

“We have the potential to fight for the podium”


After letting go of nerves in front of South Africa and to assume their status as favorites with a victory against Canada, the women’s water polo team who drives Miki Oka suffered its first defeat against the Netherlands (14-13) and that will make this Friday’s match against Australia (12.50 hours) with the first place of the group at stake, important to avoid in the quarter-to-quarter crossing United States, the great favorite for gold, despite their defeat in this first phase against Hungary.

Current European champion and world runner-up, the national team is trying to find good feelings in the tournament, after the concentration they had in Kurashiki and having taken the pulse of the competition, although Spain does not just start. The coach’s speech is to go game by game, the same as the one in the dressing room, because as the great group leader recalls, Anni Espar, In everyone’s mind is still the memory of the elimination in Rio in the quarterfinals.

“We are the first that we know that we have the potential to fight for the podium. But having said that, the mentality is to go game by game, because what we did a year and a half ago no longer counts, because and many things have happened in between and this is a different competition, “he says. Scatter, which premiered with the silver of London, 2012, and lives its third Games. “It is an illusion and a huge motivation to be here, whether they are the first or the third and you live them with great enthusiasm and also with some nerves.”

Physical work

The work to get to Tokyo with options is already done. The selection was concentrated in the CAR of Sierra Nevada in height, then carried out a ‘stage’ in Sant Cugat with the selection of USA, competed in the World Super League, to finish it in fifth place after beating the host Greece, and returned to the CAR for a final set-up with Italy. “We know that a lot of physical work had to be done because the Games are very demanding. Physically we have arrived very well, but then the feelings that we have during the tournament will also be important ”, he assures Anni Espar, one of the great offensive references of the team, MVP of the last League, in which his team the CN Mataró reached the final against CN Sabadell.

“How you enter a tournament is also important,” says the Barcelona woman. “In London we had no expectations and we did well. In Rio, we had just won silver in the World League, we were doing well and we stayed in the quarterfinals against Russia, so you never know what you might find, ”says the Barcelona player. “The important thing is tranquility, feeling well at the moment and trying to isolate yourself from everything external.”

Everything at the crossroads

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In that sense, Anni Espar He considers that everything will go through the quarter-final crossing, the key that gives access to the fight for the podium and in trying to avoid the ‘bogeyman’ of the tournament, the United States, the great favorite. “Once you are over that crossing, anything can happen and we go with great confidence,” says the Barcelona woman, who acknowledges that she feels lucky to have her sister present. clear on the olympic team.

“For me it is fortunate, if you have a bad day, no one better than your sister to help you overcome it,” says Anni, daughter of the former Barça handball coach, Xesco Espar, that recognizes that the lack of public or the limitations of movement that are living in the Olympic Village do not suppose a great inconvenience. “When you go to a Games, you already know what you’re up against. You go from the facility to your room and little else. Yes we are affected by the fact that family or friends do not travel, but we try to enjoy it just the same ”.


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