Birthday suits the norm in waterpolo
SYDNEY - One of the qualities of sport at the Olympic
level is the competition lays bare the incredible
athletic talents of the athletes.
If you hang around the waterpolo pool, there's a
pretty good chance you'll see a lot more than that.
They're ripping through more bathing suits at the Ryde
Aquatic Centre than in the making of the movie Jaws.
Bondi Beach, site of beach volleyball, was supposed to
be the place for a titillation.
A Russian player swam up to Australian centre back
Naomi Castle in their game, grabbed her breast and
ripped the suit right off it. What she was left with
was something that looked like it was bought out of
the back of a men's magazine or out of a shop on
Ste-Catherine St. in Montreal.
Castle, being the modest Australian lass that she is,
played for about 90 seconds before modesty overcame
her competitiveness and she left the game.
Just because Castle is recognized as one of the best
defenders in the world and the fact she was forced to
leave the game was, of course, merely a coincidence.
When they say a player undressed another on a play in
waterpolo, they mean it.
The Russians wrecked 10 swimsuits in that game. At
about $100 wholesale, that can put a pretty good dent
in an amateur team's budget.
"They're expensive suits," said Canadian captain Cora
Campbell. "And they're getting ripped like crazy."
It's been suggested the Russian players are using
their naked aggression to prey on the modesty of some
women. Athletes must often let it all hang out to
achieve excellence, but they are speaking of giving
their all, not showing all they've got.
"The Russians are the worst ones," said Campbell,
who's from Calgary. "There's been a lot of grabbing of
the chest, the backs of the arms, fingers to the
throat and kicking. They play that way to get you off
your game or to get you to retaliate."
When asked about the modesty issue, she didn't blush.
"I don't get out," she said. "I'd played naked if I
Canadian driver Waneek Horn-Miller, who looks fiercely
from the cover of Time wearing only a waterpolo ball,
had to go underwater the other night to shed a
shredded suit and pull on a fresh uni. So has Jana
Salat. Tuesday Ann Dow had to do the same.
The Canadian women got four of the new suits apiece,
but some of them are giving them to players like Sue
Gardiner, the big centre forward who is in the middle
of the mauling.
If you don't include boxing, wrestling, judo or those
other sports where hitting, clutching and grabbing are
the whole idea, waterpolo is the most vicious sport
At this point in the program, eyes are black, arms are
pink (from fingernail scratches, mostly) and teams are
in the red because of the escalating swimsuit cost.
"It's a pretty big problem for us," said Istvan
Gorgenyi, the coach of the Australian team. "It's a
little disappointing because I anticipated this
problem and I started writing letters about it 15 or
16 months ago for them to develop a perfect suit."
The people involved in the game see that the bathing
suit issue exposes an underlying problem in the game.
Suits are getting ripped because players are being
mauled and prevented from scoring.
It's not unlike the constant discussion in Canada
about obstruction in the National Hockey League and
how it levels the playing field, allowing slower, less
talented players to drag those who are gifted down to
It makes for boring hockey on many nights.
Unfortunately for female fans, there remains little
chance of seeing, say, Eric Lindros going au naturel,
no matter how much he been groped.
All the wrestling and grabbing in waterpolo keeps the
better players from getting open and scoring goals.
"It's a very serious issue for the future of our game
and what direction we want waterpolo to take," said
Gorgenyi. "This wrestling game or a spectacular game?"
So, as much as sex sells - and we've seen a lot of
skin at these Games - the waterpolo types figure no
nudes is good nudes.