Rotherham-born Fran Leighton ‘excited’ by Olympic pool debut

Captain: Fran Leighton in    London.    PIC: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire
Captain: Fran Leighton in London. PIC: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire
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GREAT Britain captain Fran Leighton says she can’t wait for the Olympic Games after getting her first taste of the atmosphere at the Olympic Park last night.

Rotherham-born Leighton led Team GB against Australia on the opening day of the water polo test event in London.

Despite a 10-4 defeat against one of the strongest team’s in the world, Leighton, aged 30, said it was amazing to play in the Olympic venue.

She said: “When we walked out I could feel the nerves, but it was excitement rather than thinking ‘Oh my God’.

“And looking up at the crowd cheering and getting behind us was absolutely amazing. Now we’ve got that first game out of the way we can sort of relax a little bit. We know what the atmosphere’s like, we know what it’s like when we’re playing.

“It’s going to settle us down for when we come to the Olympics. We know the pool and it’s going to feel a lot more like a home venue.”

Team GB kept close to their opponents for the first half, but their failure to convert from extra-player situations cost them dear, and lapses in concentration in the second half meant the scoreline flattered the Australians.

The four-team invitational tournament is part of the London Prepares series at various Olympic venues in the run up to the Games later this year. Great Britain took an early lead but the Australians pulled away to score four in the final quarter, with the hosts only able to score once.

Leighton said: “I think we had a strong first half, but as you can see from the stats at the end, we weren’t making our conversions on the man-ups (when Australia had a player or players in the sin-bin). A lot of our shots were hitting the woodwork or hitting the chest of the goalie - probably making her look a lot better than she was during that game.”