European Water Polo Championships: Fran Leighton heartened by GB improvements

By Nigel AdderleyBBC Sport in Eindhoven
Fran Leighton
Leighton will lead GB in their first Olympic Games since 1956. Photo:

Fran Leighton believes Great Britain's performances in the European Water Polo Championships show how far they have come ahead of the London Olympics.

Team GB's captain says the team has improved throughout the event and are close to the level of the other sides.

Despite defeats by Hungary, Russia and Holland, Leighton is hopeful ahead of GB's play-off tie against Germany.

"We shared a training camp with them before coming to the Euros so we know them pretty well," she said.

A lack of match-sharpness contributed to a 19-9 scoreline against Hungary in their opening match but Team GB did cause European champions Russia and Olympic champions Holland plenty of problems in narrower defeats.

The Dutch were flattered by Sunday's 12-6 scoreline as they made the most of some dubious refereeing decisions, and five goals from their best player, Iefke van Belkum.

Speaking about the defeat by Holland, Leighton added: "It was light years away from the Hungary game and shows how far we've come.

"We're all playing at our first Europeans and it was always going to be about making positive steps towards the Olympics, but we deserved far more from the Holland game.

"We were tough and determined and played as a unit and I think while they have a few exceptional players I don't think the rest are anything on us.

"It will be a good game against the Germans."

The match against Germany on Tuesday is to determine seventh and eighth place.


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