WPA pays tribute to seven of its retiring Olympic heroes
Two-time Olympic bronze medallists Kate Gynther, Mel Rippon and Alicia McCormack and Aussie Sharks stalwarts Gavin Woods, Thomas Whalan, Jamie Beadsworth and Tim Cleland have officially announced their retirement from the sport.
The star players were key members of Australia’s successful London 2012 Olympic campaign and played an influential role in shaping the growth and development of the sport in this country.
Between them they played over 1500 tests for Australia and were involved in some of the nation’s most iconic water polo moments.
Water Polo Australia President Peter Kerr praised the retirees for their tremendous service to the game and thanked them for their fantastic contributions over the past decade.
“These players have been tremendous ambassadors for Australia and their achievements in and out of the pool have been very much appreciated,” Kerr said.
“Some of these players will be ranked among our nations’ greatest and they will forever shape how the game is played.
“We have lost two four-time Olympians in Gavin and Thomas and two three-time Olympians in Kate and Mel and their experience will be sorely missed.
“Jamie has made an inspirational recovery from illness to play at his second Olympics, while Alicia and Tim were outstanding for the Stingers and the Sharks in London.
“I wish all seven players the best of luck in their future endeavours and hope they continue to be involved in the game for many years to come.”
Mel Rippon: Mel played 309 tests for the Aussie Stingers and is the most capped female player for Australia. She played at three Olympic Games and captained the Aussie Stingers from 2006 to 2008. Mel won two Olympic bronze medals in Beijing and London, a silver medal at the 2007 FINA World Championships and gold at the 2006 FINA World Cup. Mel also scored the winning penalty in the nail-biting quarterfinal against China at the 2012 London Olympics.
Kate Gynther: Kate played 288 tests for Australia and was captain of the Aussie Stingers at the 2012 London Olympics. She also represented the Stingers in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, amassing a total of 30 Olympic goals. Kate won two Olympic bronze medals in Beijing and London, a silver medal at the 2007 FINA World Championships and gold at the 2006 FINA World Cup.
Alicia McCormack: Alicia is Australia’s most capped goalkeeper with 209 tests and won two Olympic bronze medals in Beijing and London. She also won silver at the 2007 FINA World Championships and gold at the 2006 FINA World Cup.
Gavin Woods: Gavin is Australia’s eighth most capped player with 355 tests and joins fellow retiree Thomas Whalan and legends Andrew Kerr and Peter Montgomery as a four time Olympian. Gavin scored 19 Olympic goals in his career and won gold and silver at the 2006 and 2002 Commonwealth Championships.
Thomas Whalan: Thomas captained the Aussie Sharks for 99 of his 325 tests and joins Gavin Woods, Andrew Kerr and Peter Montgomery as a four time Olympian. He scored an amazing 32 Olympic goals in his career and won gold and silver at the 2006 and 2002 Commonwealth Championships. Thomas also played professionally in Spain, winning numerous titles with Barceloneta, and in Italy.
Jamie Beadsworth: Jamie played 135 tests for the Aussie Sharks, won four national titles with the Fremantle Mariners and won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Championships. The 27-year-old qualified for the London Olympics after he recovered from a stroke in April 2011 and went on to be named Australia’s players’ player. He also represented the Sharks in Beijing 2008.
Tim Cleland: Tim played 116 tests for Australia in career that spanned ten years. He made his debut in 2002 before taking a break in mid-2000 – only to return in 2009 to chase his Olympic dream. He won silver at the 2012 Water Polo Pan Pacs and silver at the Cosenza Trophy before helping Australia claim seventh in London.