Bronte Halligan, Tilly Kearns & Zoe Arancini

The 13-strong Aussie Stingers women’s water polo team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games was announced today at the Dawn Fraser Baths in Sydney. Among them are eight New South Wales Institute of Sport athletes (NSWIS).

Captain Zoe Arancini and Keesja Gofers, both NSWIS athletes, will compete at their third Games, Abby Andrews, Elle Armit, Bronte Halligan, Tilly Kearns and Gabi Palm all return for their second Olympics, while Alice Williams, Sienna Hearn, Sienna Green, Genevieve Longman, Danijela Jackovich and Charlize Andrews all make their Olympic debut.

Coached by Olympic bronze medallist Bec Rippon, former NSWIS Women’s Water Polo Head Coach, the Stingers have a string of recent top-5 global finishes, including fifth at Tokyo 2020 and fourth at last year’s World Championships.

Nineteen-year-old Sienna Green will make history as the youngest Australian woman to compete in Olympic Water Polo, surpassing the previous holder Ash Southern (London 2012) by 13 days.

Keesja Gofers returns to her third Games with a new supporter, one-year-old daughter Teleri. Gofers becomes the second Aussie Stinger to compete at an Olympics as a mother, joining Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympian Bronwyn Smith (nee Mayers), who is currently the Aussie Stingers Team Manager.

The Stingers are the first Australian team sport announced for the Paris Games. 

Deputy Chef de Mission for the 2024 Australian Olympic Team and four-time Hockey Olympian Mark Knowles announced the team’s selection at the Dawn Fraser Baths, the home of Australia’s oldest water polo club the Balmain Tigers.

“Congratulations to each of the 13 athletes selected today, this is a fantastic achievement,” Mr Knowles said.

“The Stingers have such a rich Olympic legacy – right from the start with their iconic gold at the first women’s water polo Olympic competition in Sydney 2000.

Mark Knowles

“There’s a special bond that comes from being part of an Olympic Team together, and I’m thrilled to be able to announce the next 13 athletes that will write their own chapter in the Stingers’ Olympic story.

“It takes a village to raise an Olympian, and I want to thank and congratulate all the people who have helped these athletes reach today’s milestone. Water Polo Australia, the coaches, families, Australian and state institutes of sport and all who have helped them on their journey to the Paris Olympics.”

Captain Zoe Arancini said she was honoured to be selected for her third Olympic Games.

“It’s a huge honour and privilege to represent your country, and to also captain, I feel extremely honoured,” she said. “I know I have all the support from the program and the team, and I’m really grateful for that.

Zoe Arancini

“It’s been awesome having Bec as our coach, but also the wider coaching group with Taryn Woods (Sydney 2000) and Eddie Denis (Sydney 2000). They’ve all played at this level, they know what it takes and how hard it can be.

“They know it’s not easy, and you’ve got to make the most of the moment. To have that wealth of experience and knowledge in our coaching staff, it’s been priceless.”

After making her Olympic debut in Tokyo, Sydneysider and NSWIS athlete Bronte Halligan said she’s expecting to have added motivation this time around, with her family and friends set to join her in Paris.

“The first Olympic Games experience this is always so much energy, and you are so excited and it’s a dream of many years that has finally come true,” Halligan said.

“For your second Games, it can seem like it’s full steam ahead but I’ve really tried to enjoy the moment, spend time with family and friends, and soak it all up.

“It’s so special that our family and friends can come support us in Paris. I know a lot of people have been able to book their tickets and accommodation now…it’s getting close and starting to feel real.

Bronte Halligan

“They’re the people that go on the journey with you, and they have to sacrifice a lot for you to get there too, so it’s a big moment for them to be there and to watch you play – I’m really looking forward to that,” she said.

Head Coach Bec Rippon congratulated the athletes on their selection.

“I’m really proud of the team that has been selected – they’ve worked really hard to get to this point, and we’re excited to see what this team can bring in Paris,” she said.

“I think you can expect the Stingers to have the attitude of going after everything, we’re in Paris to be competitive and we’re there to chase a medal. The relentless Aussie style that we want to play is what we will be bringing in less than 80 days’ time.”

Today’s announcement takes the Australian Olympic Team size to 77 of an expected team size of around 460 athletes.

Article and image courtesy of AOC

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