HAZEL Musgrove has become the fifth Warringtonian to be selected to compete at the London Olympics after being named in Team GB’s water polo squad.
The 23-year-old from Appleton, right, will make history in the first women’s water polo team to represent GB at an Olympic games.
“It is unreal, it is such an honour,” said the former Bridgewater High School pupil.
“I am so proud to be in this historic team, it is hard to put into words.
“You might think it increases expectation, but it doesn’t really put any extra pressure on us.
“We see it as a great chance for us to showcase the sport to people and show them what an exciting game it is.”
The daughter of a keen swimmer and water polo coach, Musgrove has played the sport since the age of 12, first competing for Warrington Swimming and Water Polo Club before graduating to the City of Liverpool side that secured a bronze medal at the 2010 British Championships.
She has also been promoted through the ranks in the national team, earning a gold medal at the European B Nationals Trophy, a bronze medal in the Four Nation International Invitational, a seventh-place finish in the World University Games in China and appearances in European Championships at junior, youth and under 20s level.
In a sport that is still seen as ‘developing’ in the UK, Team GB’s recent excursions abroad have proved instrumental in getting them up to speed ahead of London 2012.
And while Team GB’s hopes of grabbing a medal are slim after being named in a group including Italy, Russia and Beijing bronze medallists Australia, Musgrove believes that it has been vital for the squad to travel to the sport’s traditional heartlands of Eastern Europe in order for them to become competitive.
“We can train as hard as we like but the matches we play are so important for getting us up to the standard we need to be,” she said.
“We went to Hungary for their National League this year and that was very helpful experience.
“Previously we hadn’t qualified for the European Championships for 15 years, so when we did that this year it was a huge step forward and it was a source of great pride for us.
“It shows the progress we have made in this sport over the last few years.”
Musgrove will now spend two weeks training with her GB teammates at the Manchester Aquatic Centre, heading off for a training camp in Hungary in the final weeks before returning to London in the build-up to the opening ceremony.
Musgrove and Team GB will start their Olympic campaign at the new Water Polo Arena at Olympic Park on July 30.