Alexander Gaidukov: “Fighting Spirit helps Water Polo players win”

The head coach of the Russian women’s Water Polo team Alexander Gaidukov said he was satisfied with the third place occupied by his team last week in the World League super finals, and announced plans to win the European Championships, to be held from 14 to 28 July in Barcelona.

– We considered the World League super finals as one of the stages of preparation for the main start of the season, the European Championships, said the head coach. – We played in China after the standard training camp. Nevertheless, the team repeated last year’s result and confirmed the status of one of the world Water Polo leaders. We hoped for a higher place, but the minimum task has been fulfilled. I am happy with the result.

-You’re talking about a minimum task. But isn’t the tournament winner, the U.S. team, which defeated the Russians in the semifinals, stronger than the others?

– It’s a false impression. Today’s American team has a lower level than the team that won the Olympic Games  in Rio de Janeiro and last year’s World Championships. It is possible to play on an equal footing with it. In the finals, the Dutch team lost to the US team by only two goals. If it were not for some referee errors, our and the Dutch teams could play with the Americans more successfully. The level is now more equal, and there is still time before the next Olympics.

– In the match for 3rd place Russia defeated Canada (7:6) thanks to the goal in the last second, earlier in the quarter-finals match against Spain we dragged the victory in the penalties. Remember that the Russians defeated Greece in the qualifying match for Rio in the penalties, as well as the Hungary’s team in the game for the bronze medals. And, in both cases, they leveled the match in the last moments. It means that our team has no problems with patience and character?

– I have repeatedly noted that the Russian fighting character is a distinctive feature of this team. It allows us to drag the victory in unreal situations. All honor to the girls!

– In comparison with the Olympic Games, the composition has been updated by half. 7 out of 13 Rio bronze medalists played in China.

– We rejuvenated the national team, attracted athletes from the youth team. It  was optimized for the long Olympic cycle ahead of Tokyo 2020.

– What is the task for the July European Championships?

– We always set the maximum task, to win. In Europe, there are six more or less equal level teams. It all depends on who will be better prepared and motivated.