Greek men’s water polo beats Russia, qualifies for Olympics


Greece’s men’s water polo team has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, beating Russia 13-10 at the World Qualification Tournament in Rotterdam Saturday.

Victory sent Greece to the tournament’s final, where they will face Montenegro, 14-12 winners over Croatia earlier Saturday. Both Greece and Montenegro already qualified with their semifinal victories. Croatia and Russia will face off Sunday in the third-place game, for the final qualifying spot.

Like the Olympics themselves, the tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It was scheduled to take place from 22 to 29 March and then from 31 May to 7 June 2020.

Already qualified for the Olympics are host nation Japan, Kazakhstan (2018 Asian Games winner), Serbia (2019 FINA World League Champion), Italy (2019 FINA World Championship winner), Spain (2019 FINA World Championship runner-up), the United States (2019 Pan american Games winner), Hungary (2020 European Championships winner), South Africa and Australia, the last two as the Africa and Oceania continental selections, respectively.

It is the 16th Olympics qualification for the Greek men’s team since 1920, with their best finish a 4th place at the 2004 Athens Olympics. They also finished 6th in Atlanta (1996) and Rio de Janeiro (2016).

The women’s team just failed to qualify last month in the women’s World Qualification Tournament in Trieste, Italy, finishing 3rd behind Hungary and the Netherlands. Only two spots from that tournament were available and Greece fell to the Netherlands, 7-4, in the semis before beating host Italy 10-4 in a meaningless third-place game.

Greek women have won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics and were crowned World League Winners in 2005 and World Champions in 2011.

On Saturday, Greece held a narrow lead over the first two 8-minute pperiods (4-3, 6-5) and managed to widen their lead in the third (11-9) and fourth for the final 13-10. Angelos Vlachopoulos led Greece with five goals.

 



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