Commonwealth Games Bronze for Graham Martin-Dye
Graham Martin-Dye, Watford S.C. played for
England in the Commonwealth Games Water polo Championship which took place at
the Manchester Aquatic Centre on 25-31 March.
In the men’s tournament there were 9 countries which were split into two Qualifying groups.
Group A and B (England's Group B Results)
Australia New Zealand Won 12-9
South Africa Canada Lost 8-4
Singapore N.Ireland Won 15-4
Wales England Malta Group Qualifying
Canada, with known form, were clear favourites in Group B so N.Zealand, especially being England’s first opponents was an important scalp to claim. Graham had an excellent game scoring 2 crucial penalties, the 2nd one giving England a 9-8 lead.
In the Canadian Match we missed a vital penalty plus a very harsh referee decision against us from which Canada then scored so the result could well have been closer. However because of our two wins we qualified for the semi-finals and were drawn against the favourites Australia. They beat us 11-4 more or less as expected. Canada beat Malta in the other semi’ so it was Aussi v Canada in the Final for gold and silver with England playing for the Bronze against Malta.
1st & 2nd Place
In Final Canada upset the ‘ bookies’, big-time, by beating Aussi 6-5 in a gripping match scoring the winning goal just before the final whistle blew.
Bronze Play Off
This was England's ‘game of the century’ against their old rivals Malta. At the end of a tense 1st quarter the score was 1-1. Graham came in for the 2nd Quarter and shortly after winning the ball from the ‘swim-up’ there was a foul and England were awarded a penalty. Graham rose to the task and promptly scored in magnificent fashion with thunderous bouncing shot to make it 2-1. From here on we were neck and neck with the full time match ending a nail biting 7-7.
Two periods of 3mins . now had to be played but to our horror in the first period Graham is left out! At half time the score is still level at 8-8 but England are a man down due to exclusion foul. The tension was now unbearable (3mins to go before penalty shoot-out!). It was crucial England win the ball from the swim-off and to our joy, and nerve racking, Graham was put back in. He swam the fastest 15m of his life, won the ball for England and a minute later launched a magnificent shot from 6m to score the winning goal making the score 9-8 which seemed to distroy Malta which allowed England to score two more goals in the last minute of the game and so win them the well earned BRONZE Commonwealth Championship. Watford S.C. congratulate all of the England team and especially Graham, Watford's Water Polo Team Captain, on a magnificent effort.
P.S. why wasn’t it on the tele?
cause of a forgotten sport
Marc Dodd meet a water polo player with his eye on Commonwealth gold
GRAHAM MARTIN-DYE hopes to
one day follow in his father's footsteps by swimming for Britain at the
Olympics-but right now he's concentrating on next years Commonwealth Games in
Manchester with the English water polo team.
The 23-year-old from Garston, narrowly missed out on qualifying for Great Britain's swimming team in last summer's Sydney Olympics - and has now switched back to his original sport
Graham's return was warmly welcomed by the England Water polo team - he was immediately selected for the side - and with a number of major events coming up this year, it looks to have been a shrewd decision. As well as the Commonwealth Games, the European Championships are also coming up later this year, and if England do well in that tournament, they will be selected to take place in the qualifying tournament for the 2004 Olympics in Athens. He also turns out for local side Watford and represents the Hammersmith Penguins in the national league, which finished in second place last season.
Training is tough, and work commitments mean he is no longer able to train early morning and evening - but he still makes it to the pool once a day. The focus of his training is next year's Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Although team events are not officially part of the games, the Commonwealth Water Polo Tournament, which takes place in Manchester at the same time, is generally recognised as part of the Games, and has a Commonwealth medal at stake - a prize Graham believes is in his reach. He said: "I think England has got every chance of getting a medal of some description, hopefully the gold. "The only thing I'm a bit gutted about is that the tournament is taking place in Manchester and not some where a little more exotic." The competition is sure to be tough, but after a barren spell in their history, the English team's fortunes looks to be changing.
The team returned from the Eight Nations Tournament in Denmark in April with third place, and also did well in the Jackerson Memorial Tournament in Prague a few weeks later - with Graham the top goalscorer. "It did my confidence a lot of good," he said. "The trouble is that other countries don't recognise England as a top team. "We are good players, we just don't have enough time or money invested in our sport."
Graham receives no funding but is sponsored by the newly opened Sportz Academy in Watford, who allow him free use of their facilities to train. One possible solution is to play water polo professionally - something which Graham may have the chance to do in the near future. All the top players play professionally for clubs in the European leagues, and after impressing at a training camp in France last month, several teams indicated their interest in signing Graham. He said: "It's something I'm definitely going to consider, but not until after the Commonwealth Games. All I'm really focused on just now is getting a medal." It is no surprise that Graham has been successful in the pool - his father John represented Britain at the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games in Rome and Tokyo, and picked up two bronze Commonwealth Games medals. Under his father's watchful eye, Graham was introduced to the swimming pool at an early age, and was soon representing his country in both swimming and water polo at junior level.
At 19, Graham reluctantly quit water polo to concentrate on swimming with all his training geared towards qualifying for the Olympics. Graham faced an uphill battle from the start - he was forced to train in Hatfield every morning because Watford simply didn't have the facilities. Another obstacle was the issue of funding - a subject for which the British Olympic Association has received fierce criticism. Despite millions of pounds of the public's lottery money being pumped into the sport, swimmers like Graham did not receive a penny - which seems ridiculous when you consider that in 1999 he swam for the England under-21's squad, and finished fourth in an eight-nation tournament which included some of Europe's top young swimmers. As a result, the sport became fragmented and a two-tier system emerged. He said: "The funding system was very poor because the top simmers were receiving all the money, instead of everyone benefiting. They paid the price in the end, because the team returned from Sydney with no medals." Graham eventually missed out in the Olympic trials at Sheffield last July, finishing 11th in both the 50-metre freestyle and 200-metre freestyle, and just failing to land a place in the relay team. With less than a second separating the swimmers, though, Graham knows how close he came to being selected. He said: "In the end, any one of the swimmers competing could have been aboard that plane to Sydney. I though I had a chance of at least making it to the relay team, but in the end it wasn't to be." However, the contentious issue of funding still appears to frustrate and annoy Graham, especially when it seems that this lack of support could have cost him his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. "Swimmers lime myself have to deal with a full-time job as well as training every day if we want to be successful," he said. "At the trials we were competing like Mark Foster and Paul Palmer, who are paid to swim thanks to the funding. After the trials, I just felt that I wanted to return to water polo. I gave swimming my best shot and hope one day to make a return to the sport."
Success in the Commonwealth Games is not going to be easy. Australia are as dominant in water polo as they are in swimming, and the pressure will be on the English team to do well in front of a home crow. England must also start impressing if they are to gain qualification for the 2004 Olympics. Historically, only Hungary have a better Olympic record - but the English team has been in the doldrums for a number of years, to such an extent that they must finish highly in the upcoming European Championships to have any chance of getting to the Olympics. Only then will the sport receive funding from the British Olympic Association, which will enable England to compete with the top European countries. If Graham can win that medal, it will complete an amazing father-and-son Commonwealth double, which could be made all the more remarkable if he does make the next Olympics in Athens in the summer of 2004 - exactly 40 years after his father proudly represented Britain in Tokyo