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Australians Are Left Emotional by First Win

September 16, 2000|Associated Press

There's no crying in water polo. Except for this match, an Olympic first.

"I never get emotional, I didn't think I would," said Australia's Bridgette Gusterson. "I never cry before a game. I did today."

Gusterson scored three goals as Australia defeated Kazakstan 9-2, in Ryde, today to open the first Olympic women's water polo tournament.

"For me it was an absolute experience," said Australia's Debbie Watson, who is 35 and came out of retirement to take part in history. "I feel very lucky to have been here."

Australia, one of the favorites in the six-team tournament, got two first-half goals from Gusterson. Yvette Higgins added two for Australia, which should get a tougher game from Russia on Sunday.

But the game was as much a celebration for Australia, serving as host to the first women's tournament in a sport that has been men-only at the Olympics since its debut in Paris a century ago.

Both teams stepped into the pool while a Shania Twain recording said, "Let's go girls" and fans clapped along.

"I wasn't sure there would be anybody here," said Higgins, at 22, one of the team's youngest members.

There were about 4,000 people at the Ryde Aquatics Leisure Center.

When it was over, the crowd stood and cheered. Players from both teams waved back.

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