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King's Olympic dedication pays off
A WATER polo player from West Wickham is set to have his Olympic dream come true when the London 2012 Games finally get underway later this month.
Sean King, 23, took up the sport at the age of 11 while studying at Trinity School in Croydon.
Five years later in 2005 it was confirmed London would be hosting the greatest show on earth and the then 16-year-old King immediately began plotting his route to a place in the Team GB water polo squad.
He said: “I’ve been preparing for this pretty much since we won the Olympic bid in 2005.
“I worked out instantly I would be 23 when the Games arrived and made the decision to commit fully to it, moving to the national water polo academy in Grantham the same year, where I was able to combine more training with my A-Levels.
“I started playing water polo when I joined secondary school at 11. I joined Trinity School, which had a rich history in the sport.
“I had swum competitively beforehand and was invited along to a taster session.
“I instantly loved the sport and the way it combined so many other sports.”
A place at the Olympics is certainly hard-earned, as King explains.
“If you want to play at the highest level then training is the key and I have got used to early mornings sessions in the pool, gym sessions and training or games in the evening or at weekends,” he said.
“While at the national performance centre in Manchester we were training at least three times a day during the week.”
King’s dedication was finally rewarded when he received final confirmation he had made the GB 2012 squad, a moment the West Wickham man recalls vividly.
“I was pulling into Euston on a train when I received an email telling me I had been selected,” he recalls.
“I was overjoyed and I think most people in my carriage thought I was a lunatic.
“My parents and my girlfriend met me at the station and we were all quite emotional.”
By this stage King was playing professionally in Germany, a decision which he believes will hopefully benefit Team GB, even though he is the first to accept they have their work cut out to make progress in the competition.
“The German league is stronger than the British league, as many of the players are professional or semi-professional and the clubs have sponsors who provide funds for training,” he said.
“Playing in Germany has given me the opportunity to play against experienced international players and I think this has helped me improve as a player.
“I also played for my club in the LEN trophy, a European club competition where we came up against some of the best clubs in Europe.
“GB has been drawn in what is being called the Group of Death.
“We are in the same group as the top four teams from the Beijing Olympics - Hungary, Serbia, USA and Montenegro - plus Romania.
“It will be very difficult for GB to progress out of the group stage, but with the home crowd behind us we might just cause an upset or two.”
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