Chasing gold: Newcastle local Kosta Tsiaousis swims toward Olympic dream

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Every child has dreams of grandeur. For 12-year-old Kosta Tsiaousis, his sights are sharply set on playing water polo in the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane.

It’s a dream he realised was possible after winning gold in the Australian Youth Water Polo Championships earlier this month. 

Kosta is part of Sydney Northern Beaches Breakers (‘SNB Breakers’) under 14s team, who after five days of being undefeated, won the national grand final 9-2 over Hunter Hurricanes on April 18 at Sleeman Aquatic Centre in Brisbane.

In an exclusive interview with The Greek Herald, the second-generation Greek describes the victory as “bittersweet”.

“The grand final was actually against my old team the Hunter Hurricanes so it was bittersweet. I was so proud of them for making the grand final too, but I also couldn’t hide my excitement,” he says.

Kosta with his Australia Youth Polo Championship gold medal. Photo: Supplied. 

Having stumbled into water polo in January 2019 after his mother encouraged him to trial for an under 12s representative team, Kosta found it to be the perfect mix of his favourite sports: swimming, basketball and soccer. 

“I had never played before, but I made the team and have loved every minute since,” he says. 

Coached by former Australian Olympians, Jemma and Dean Semmens, who played water polo in the 2004 Athens Olympics, Kosta says the real highlight of playing with the SNB Breakers is that “their team colours are blue and white”.

Kosta is in position as a driver and centre forward. Photo: Supplied

For Kosta’s father, Angelo Tsiaousis, he jokes that his son’s decision to abandon soccer to make way for water polo was “devastating”.

“What Greek father wouldn’t be shattered?” he jokes.

However, Angelo was quick to describe April 18 as nothing less than a “proud dad moment.” 

“I had tears in my eyes, my wife was crying, everyone was cheering and hugging. All of Kosta’s hard work had paid off and the hours driving up and down the M1 made it all worthwhile,” he says. 

The Tsiaousis family is based in Newcastle and make the two-hour journey to Sydney’s Northern Beaches every Tuesday and Thursday for training and every Sunday for games.

Photo: Supplied

“On training days we leave home around 4.30 in the afternoon and are back any time between 10.30 and 11 at night,” Angelo says.

Kosta’s paternal grandparents, Konstantinos and Triantafillia, migrated to Australia in the 1950s and their unrelenting work ethic evidently runs through to their grandchildren. 

“They came here with nothing,” Angelo says.

“My mother grew up in an orphanage from the age of three, so they worked tirelessly to give us the life they never had. We can do things they couldn’t. We can close our shops early, help the kids, do late nights and long trips all because of their sacrifice.”

(L) Triantafillia Tsiaousis and her late husband Konstantinos in their takeaway shop. (R) Triantafillia with her grandchildren: Kosta, Alexa and Ava. Photos: Supplied

Though only 12 years of age, Kosta assures water polo will form a substantive part of his adult life. 

“I have such a passion for water polo and hope that I can keep playing for many, many years to come,” Kosta says. 

“Water polo is played all over the world, and I would love to travel and play in Greece. To play for a club over there would be a dream.” 

When asked what the pinnacle would be, Kosta is adamant on 2032.

“With the 2032 Olympics due to be held in Australia it would be the pinnacle to play there,” he concludes. 

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