BBC Sport olympics


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Monday, 9 June 2008 12:31 UK

Polo king Carpenter targets 2012

Scott Carpenter
Carpenter is the top goal-scorer in the British league

By Saj Chowdhury

Water polo: it's handball in a swimming pool or football using hands in a swimming pool.

There are many ways it can be described, but one thing is for certain, it's tough.

"I think we would fair well on a rugby pitch, but I'd like to see rugby players try our sport," British water polo player Scott Carpenter told BBC Sport.

1900 Paris: Gold
1908 London: Gold
1912 Stockholm: Gold
1920 Antwerp: Gold

Carpenter, 19, is making quite a splash - excuse the pun - in the sport.

This year, he broke the British league record for goals scored with 109 strikes, shattering the previous best of 85.

"I was pleased with that and it shows I'm progressing," Carpenter added modestly.

Carpenter, from Spennymoor in County Durham, was introduced to the sport at the age of six by his father George, a former Great Britain international.

He now plays for Sedgefield Water Polo Club, is a fully-fledged member of the British team and is also seen as one of the hottest prospects in the world.

"I turned down scholarships in the United States and Australia to study at Manchester University," he said.

The decision to move to Manchester - home of the Olympic aquatics performance centre - has been a major boost for the GB team who are aiming to break into the elite 12 for the London Olympics.

Chris Gilbertson: "One of the messiest guys in the world - he's a bit of a wild one"
Alex Parsonage: "The smallest guy in the team and he's a clean-freak - he looks after the kitchen"
Rob Rae: "You never see him because he's always at his girlfriend's house or he's sleeping"

"We're improving all the time. We came sixth in the European 'B' tournament and have a chance of qualifying for the European 'A' which is where all the best teams compete," he added.

"All the elite are in Europe and we're ranked about 15th in the continent and 17th or 18th in the world.

"Twelve teams qualify for the Olympics so as long as the GB guys keep playing well then I reckon we'll be where we want to be by 2012."

Water polo consists of seven players on each side with six outfield and one goalkeeper. The aim is to score more goals than the opposition.

Simple? Not quite.

"Everyone has to attack and defend," said Carpenter.

"Some roles are more physical than others. The bigger guys are centre forwards who need to wrestle and fight for position. The central defenders are of the same physique and have to wrestle too.

"The really agile and smaller guys are put on the wing because they have to be pretty pacy."

He added: "The pool is all deep water and about two to two-and-a half metres deep so you can't use the floor - it's 20m wide and 30m long."

A match consists of four periods of seven minutes with a two-minute break in between each. However, if the referee blows the whistle both the play and the clock stops.

Scott Carpenter and friends
Carpenter (second from right) dresses up as a Smurf with some of his GB team-mates for Halloween

"You swim about two to three miles a game and on top of that there's the wrestling and using the ball, so we have to be in very good shape," added Carpenter, a rugby fan who follows Newcastle Falcons and whose best friend is England Under-21 player Alex Tait.

"We do a lot of stretching and flexibility in both pre-training and post-training. We also have three or four strengthening and conditioning sessions.

"In all honesty, we spend as much of our training time out of the water as in the water."

Carpenter admitted that he has had to by-pass the usual partying that is associated with university life, but said that living with his fellow GB team-mates helped him avoid temptation.

"There are four of us in on flat and I'm moving into a house of five next year," he said.

"It's good because we cook for each other and get each other out of bed for training.

"My party life is non-existent. We train Monday to Friday and on top of that there's studying.

"My life is pretty simple, though. My halls and my university are next to the pool. My life is within a 100m radius.

"Everyone in our pad is pretty dedicated. We have the odd night out together, but it's usually low key."

Carpenter is just one of the 2008 Olympians and 2012 hopefuls appearing regularly on 606.

see also
GB appoint 2012 water polo coach
10 Dec 07 |  Swimming

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites