Four Lancaster water polo players will go for gold with England at a major competition.
Ciaran James, Glen Robinson, Tom Curwen and Katie Hesketh will line up for their country in the Commonwealth Water Polo Championships which start in Aberdeen this Saturday, April 5.
The sport is not part of the Commonwealth Games which comes to Glasgow later this year but a tournament has been held in the run up to two of the last three games.
Manchester hosted one in 2002 with a second event in Australia four years later but the competition didn’t happen in Delhi in 2010 due to the sport’s lack of popularity in India.
It returns from this Saturday however and Great Britain international Curwen believes England should be going for gold.
The 27-year-old former Our Lady’s Catholic College pupil said: “We have had the Euro qualifiers but this is a big tournament for us.
“We’re playing against teams we don’t usually play against. South Africa, New Zealand and Singapore are a long way away so we don’t get to play them that often.
“We’re looking at gold. I think if we come away with anything else we’ll be disappointed.
“We’re still amateur but we’ve got a good new coach from Romania who has only just finished playing so we’re looking to win.”
Curwen, a fireman who plays for Lancaster City Swimming and Water Polo Club, has an extra incentive having originally been selected for the 2012 Olympics before missing out on the London games.
He said: “They wanted us to go abroad to play before London but I couldn’t because of work.
“The coach and I had a disagreement about it and that was that.”
Curwen will be joined by two Olympians in the form of club mate Robinson, a personal trainer at 3-1-5 Health Club, and James, who has been playing professionally for Sète in the south of France.
Lancaster-born Hesketh, 19, is now playing for City of Liverpool having started out with her hometown club.
The men take on Scotland, Wales, South Africa, Singapore, New Zealand and Malta with their opening game against South Africa on Saturday at 2.30pm.
The women’s team take on Scotland, Wales, South Africa and Canada with their first fixture against Wales on Sunday at 1pm.
The competition, which is a single group format with the top two teams playing off for gold and silver, runs until the following Saturday, April 12.