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TGH Exclusive: Anthony Hrysanthos – I hope to lead Australia to an Olympic medal

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Anthony Hrysanthos has had an incredible waterpolo journey so far, both domestically and internationally, aged only 25 years old and in his career prime. Anthony has already made an astounding 70 international caps for Australia, being part of the 2018 FINA World Cup Australian silver medalist side. With Australia having already qualified for the Olympics, Anthony hopes to be part of the team to go to Tokyo and bring home a medal.

The Greek Herald talked exclusively with Anthony about his waterpolo journey so far, preparation for the Olympics and his hopes for the future.

Congratulations on recently graduating from a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree (Physiotherapy) from University of Sydney. How difficult has it been to juggle your studies with your professional playing career?

It has been a difficult journey to try and juggle my studies and water polo, but the University of Sydney has an Elite Athlete Program that assists student athletes in achieving their dual career aspirations. There were many times where there was flexibility to sit examinations on alternate dates, as I would travel to Europe for up to 8 weeks at a time competing in tournaments and training camps. Probably the most difficult part was trying to catch up on practical components of the physiotherapy degree that I would miss being away, but I got there in the end.

Who most inspires you most, both as a waterpolo player and in your personal life?

It would definitely have to be seeing past and present athletes being able to live dual careers. It is a big goal of mine to be able to succeed in both water polo and in my working and personal life as a physiotherapist. There have been some great examples of athletes that are able to both balance and excel in both areas and that’s the legacy I would like to leave behind.

Photo: Supplied

What led you to be positioned as a goalkeeper for most of your career? Was it a skill based decision or a preferable playing position for yourself? 

When I first began playing water polo at 11 years of age, I was a field player. We had a game towards the end of that year where our regular goalkeeper was away. Each player had to fill in for a quarter and I volunteered to go first. I ended up saving a penalty and playing really well so I finished the game in goals and have never moved from there. There is also a significantly less amount of swim training as a goalkeeper so that definitely appealed to me.

You’ve collected an impressive list of accolades. Which one have you felt most proud about, domestically and internationally?

Domestically it would have to be winning the 2018 Australian Water Polo League title and receiving the MVP of the Finals. This was a memorable game for me as we had finished runners up in the previous three years so it was great to finally get the breakthrough. Internationally, it would be making my debut at the FINA World Championships in Budapest in 2017. The opening game was against the home team, Hungary, and it was played in front of a packed house of over 10,000 spectators.

Making 70 international caps at only 24 years of age is an impressive accomplishment for anyone in the sporting field. What are you most looking forward to for the rest of your water polo career? 

Thank you for the kind words. In the short term I am definitely looking forward to cementing my spot in the team and to hopefully be selected in the Olympic team. It has always been a dream of mine since I was a child to be an Olympian and it is exciting to have the opportunity to finally achieve this life goal. Further on in my career I hope to continue to represent Australia at major competitions and build my reputation to be one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

Photo: Supplied

With the Olympics only a few months away, what mental and physical preparations will you be undertaking? 

Despite the Olympics being the pinnacle event for water polo it’s very important to not let the stress and pressure of that get in the way of my preparations. I am doing my best to try and continue with my mental routines that I know have gotten me this far. For example, I have the same pre-game warm up routine that I have used for the past 4-5 years. In terms of physical preparations, we have been training together as a group for several months now and have some key tournaments coming up in USA at the end of April and in Georgia at the end of June. Otherwise, it is training most days with swimming, gym and team water polo sessions throughout the week. A normal week of training would include around 7 pool sessions and 3 gym sessions.

You mentioned in a previous interview that your ideal sporting achievement would be to participate and win a gold medal at the Olympics. Are you hoping to take the Aussie Sharks to an Olympic gold this year? 

That is definitely the end goal but there is a massive journey ahead if we are to have an opportunity to play for a medal. With having already qualified we are looking forward to seeing the draw and our potential opponents. As we will need to finish in the top 4 of the group to be able to progress to the knockout stages it really is a matter of taking each game one step at a time and I hope to be able to lead the team on that journey.

Additional note: Olympics is 12 Men’s Teams (2 groups of 6) – which makes it very competitive to even finish in the top 4, something that the Australian Team failed to do at Rio 2016.

What activities or hobbies do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I enjoy watching movies and TV shows, playing golf with my friends and playing on my PS4.

Photo: Supplied

Being born in Australia of Greek roots, can you give us a bit of background on your Greek heritage?

My grandparents were all born in Greece and come from the Peloponnesian Region. They all moved to Australia in their late teens / early twenties, marrying and beginning their new families in Australia. I was also fortunate enough to take Greek citizenship during my time playing for Vouliagmeni.

Having played domestically for both Australia and Greece, for Sydney University Lions and Vouliagmeni respectively, which have you found to be more competitive?

Although both leagues are quite strong I would have to say that the Greek domestic league is stronger mainly because it is a professional league. The Greek Juniors are the current World Champions and that made playing in that league very competitive. Adding to that, having to play against Olympiakos up to 7 times in one season was an invaluable experience because they are one of the world’s best water polo teams. I was fortunate enough to also play games for Vouliagmeni in the Champions League Qualifiers and the Euro Cup.

At only 24 years old I’m sure we’ll be seeing you represent Australia for years to come. Thank you for the interview, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?

Thank you for having me on board. To the readers I encourage everyone to continue chasing their dreams as you never know where it can take you. If I looked back on my life 20 years ago I never thought that it would be a sport like water polo that would help push me to where I am today.

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