The Aussie Stingers women’s water polo team will call the Sunshine Coast home ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Orange Pictures / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
The Aussie Stingers women’s water polo team will call the Sunshine Coast home ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Picture: Orange Pictures / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Stingers to call Coast home ahead of Olympics

The Australian women’s water polo team will lay the foundations for an Olympic medal charge on the Sunshine Coast when they converge for a lengthy camp.

The “Aussie Stingers” will call the Coast home ahead of the Tokyo Olympics from February 7 through to their departure to the Games.

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It’s not the first time they’ve held an Olympic camp on the Coast, with the Stingers having based themselves in the region in the six months prior to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

They went on to win the gold medal that year.

Many of the current squad will be familiar with the region’s facilities too having hosted US sides at Kawana for a five-day training camp and two-match test series in 2018.

North Brisbane Polo Bears player and Olympian Bronwen Knox in action against Merlo Mermaids during the opening rounds of the women's Water Polo Queensland Premier League at St Andrew's Anglican College. Picture: Tom Threadingham
North Brisbane Polo Bears player and Olympian Bronwen Knox in action against Merlo Mermaids during the opening rounds of the women's Water Polo Queensland Premier League at St Andrew's Anglican College. Picture: Tom Threadingham

Some of the team, including triple Olympian Bronwen Knox, were also in action at St Andrew’s during the Queensland Water Polo Premier League in October.

While the Aussie Stingers have already secured their spot at the Tokyo Olympics, the pandemic will likely reduce international travel and competitions ahead of the Games.

That meant a new home base needed to be sourced.

Thanks to the support of the Sunshine Coast Council, the squad will be based at Coolum using facilities at Kawana Aquatics and 02 Performance along with St Andrew’s Anglican School, as part of their training.

Dual Olympian and Aussie Stingers captain Rowie Webster. Picture: Orange Pictures / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Dual Olympian and Aussie Stingers captain Rowie Webster. Picture: Orange Pictures / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

The Aussie Stingers have been living and training within their home states for most of 2020, with the relocation to the Sunshine Coast the first time the full squad will be back together since April.

Dual Olympian and Aussie Stingers captain Rowie Webster said it would be a very different preparation for the team leading into the next Olympics but the chance to be all together would be beneficial.

“We really enjoy being in Queensland and the Sunshine Coast will provide us with warm weather and ideal facilities to allow us to focus on our training and preparation in those final months leading into Tokyo,” Webster said.

“As someone who has been in Melbourne for most of 2020 and has had a disruptive year when it comes to training, I am very much looking forward to being back with the squad.

“We know the Sunshine Coast was a great base for the Aussie Stingers in 2000, so we are looking forward to getting our next generation of players back to where it all began before that infamous gold medal moment.

“Our normal preparation for an Olympics would see us living and travelling together, mostly abroad for camps and tournaments.

“But in the current global environment means we are unlikely to travel overseas before the Games, meaning we needed to find a new base in Australia where we could maximise our time together as a team.”

Cr Jason O’Pray said welcoming the athletes was part of a wider objective to position the region as a destination of choice for high performance sports training.

“The Aussie Stingers’ return to the Sunshine Coast is a great show of confidence for our region as one of Australia’s premier sports training destinations, and I know the community will give them a warm welcome when they arrive in February,” he said.

Stingers aside, the Sunshine Coast has been making a mark in the sport of late.

Kawana’s men and a Coast women side battled through the inaugural Queensland Water Polo Premier League over the past two months.

The competition wrapped on Sunday, with Kawana taking out the bronze after defeating North Brisbane Polo Bears 9-8.

Meanwhile, the Coast women fell to Merlo Mermaids in their bronze medal match.

The games were livestreamed with replays available.