Fox: Iím proud of our Olympic efforts
Hi Aussie Sharks supporters
It's hard to believe that it's already been four weeks since the Olympics finished. After such a long preparation and build up and then to finally play in the Olympic Games, it's all over too soon.
The Olympics was certainly a rollercoaster of excitement and emotion.
Whilst we were disappointed at not progressing through the quarterfinals, the results that we achieved in London certainly did us proud.
The Sharks showed that they will not be intimidated by anyone and certainly have the talent and skill to match it with the best teams in the world.
Losing the crucial quarterfinal game to Serbia after being ahead at three-quarter time was certainly a bitter pill to swallow. We were well on the way to one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history, as it was reported in the press. However some crucial calls against us in the final quarter and probably a lack of experience playing in these pressure situations allowed Serbia to overrun us and secure victory to progress to the semi finals.
Earlier in the tournament we had already proved many pundits wrong by easily accounting for Greece to qualify for the finals. And this form continued even after the Serbian game, when we ran triple Olympic gold medallist Hungary to one goal in the 5 to 8 playoff. Again nervousness and perhaps a little bit of inexperience let us down in the final minute when we had an opportunity to score a one on none goal to go ahead with one minute to go. A crucial save by the Hungarian goalkeeper, and subsequent counter-attack resulting in a goal to Hungary allowing them to secure the tight victory.
Our final game of the Olympics against the USA was a dominant display and we were clearly a much classier team than the Americans. A lapse in the last few minutes allowed them to claw back three goals but we had maintained enough of an advantage to secure victory and seventh place at the games. This meant that it was the best result by an Australian men's team since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Whilst no one is satisfied with seventh place, we are very proud of the way that we played and we have received many words of recognition and admiration from observers and supporters, both in Australia and overseas.
The future is indeed very bright, and with the exception of Great Britain, Australia fielded the youngest average aged team at the Olympics. As is the case with all countries we will say goodbye to some of our best and most experienced players, however we are as well-balanced and equipped as any team in the world to bring through the next generation, that will complement the existing players who are playing on towards Rio.
Whilst many opposition teams will need to go through a very complete rebuilding phase, we have, I believe, the foundation and player base from which we can quickly return to full strength and be a world threat in the coming years.
As I write this I am aware of three players that have certainly retired, in (Jamie) Beadsworth, (Gavin) Woods and (Thomas) Whalan.
All three were great contributors throughout the Olympics and have been fine journeymen for their country. Gavin and Thomas etched themselves into Australian water polo history by competing in their fourth Olympic Games, joining the likes of Peter Montgomery and Andrew Kerr. Jamie was voted the most valuable Australian player for the Olympics.
Three players certainly hard to replace, yes, but in the same breath we are excited with the depth of talent coming through the junior ranks.
Captain Sam McGregor is uncertain about his international future and will take some time to decide after undergoing post-season surgery.
The hardness and toughness of this Aussie Sharks group was evident not only in the way that we played, which was well reported throughout the press as Australians being brutal, but also behind the scenes in the manner of what some players had to do to get up for each game.
I have mentioned Sam seeking surgery, whilst Gavin undertook a course of cortisone injections to ensure that his shoulder was able to withstand the pressure of playing centre forward over the period of two weeks. Jamie also received daily physio to deal with the soreness and harsh treatment sustained playing in the CF position. Tim Cleland sustained a finger tendon injury minutes before the opening game of the Olympics, and subsequently had to receive injections pre-game, every game, just to enable him to play.
Without the likes of physio Ian Gard and Dr Grace Bryant, we would never have been able to field a fully competitive 13 players for every game and I am deeply appreciative of their efforts and service to the team.
Every player and staff member made a significant contribution to this Olympic team and I could go on for hours listing and thanking every individual. I will in fact do this in due course, but for now my sincere thanks goes to everyone that helped get this team up and ready for the Olympic Games.
And of course the supporters and families. You were fantastic!
As all the players and some of the staff have gone off for well-deserved breaks, I have been busy in the weeks since returning from London, undergoing and undertaking review processes, whilst disseminating all the information from the Olympics. The analysis has been very comprehensive and I'm looking forward to sharing this with fellow coaches and interested parties in planning for 2016.
Thank you everyone for your support throughout this campaign. It was at times a very hard slog but always rewarding.
There are exciting times ahead for this improving Aussie Sharks outfit and I have no doubt that we will be standing up on that coveted dais in Rio 2016.
To keep up-to-date with what is happening with the Aussie Sharks you can follow @Aussie_sharks on Twitter.
All the best
Past editions of John's blog