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Published: August 22nd 2015
Ok, so I'm a little behind on the blog entries... I'm going to try and catch up over the next couple of days. Starting with the Underwater Rugby World Championships, which were in Cali from the 26th July to 1st August. The week before we had a tour around a few cities in Colombia to improve our skills in the lead up to the tournament:
The majority of the team had arrived in Bogota by the 18th July and we played a game against the Castores. Then we all headed to Medellin (some in the bus, and others, including me, on a plane). In Medellin, we had some training with the Orcas who are one of the best teams in Colombia. Actually, majority of the selection for the Colombian team were from the Orcas! We played a couple of games against them and the Ecomares, who are another team in Medellin. We had a bit of downtime between training sessions to check out the city in the cable car. Medellin is really cool - really green with random apartment buildings sprouting out of the hills. Unfortunately, I had some problems with my ear during training on the second day spent
the day really dizzy and unable to walk in a straight line. We went to the doctor and it turned out I had an ear infection and couldn't go in the water for a week! Luckily that meant that I would be able to go back in the water on the first day of the world championships, but I would have to miss out on all the training before hand, which I wasn't too happy about.
After Medellin, we took the bus to Pereira. On the way, we stopped at the coffee farm owned by the uncle of Cata, one of the players. He took us on a tour of the coffee farm, finishing with an amazing cup of coffee. We stopped off at some hot springs on the way as well and made it to our hostel in Pereira pretty late. It was all a lot of fun! We had a couple of games in Pereira against the Leones, and then continued on to Cali.
In Cali we were staying in the same hotel as the Colombian team (which was really awesome when it came to swapping uniforms at the end of the tournament!). We had a
couple of training days at the pool before the tournament and the ladies spent some time training with the Danish team. My parents were in Cali to watch the first couple of days of the tournament so we met up in the Parque de Perros (the Dog Park). It was really great to catch up with them and have them there for the first few games! We had the opening ceremony on the Sunday night. It was pretty awesome - the grandstand was full of people and we walked around the pool behind the sign for Australia, waving to the crowd. I got to hold the flag as well! Afterwards they had some salsa and tango champions performing for the entertainment - Cali is well known in Colombia for its salsa. The tournament started the following day. Our first game was against Venezuela, who were another new team, so we were hoping to do well against them. We ended up drawing 2-2 which we were pretty happy with. The next 3 games were against top teams who have been playing UWR for years - Colombia, Finland and Sweden. We managed to keep our defence really strong, even against Sweden, who
needed to beat us by 15 points to move to the first place in the group, so were really trying to score as many goals as possible. The final scores were 14-0 Colombia, 8-0 Finland and 14-0 Sweden. We were really happy with how we played. The final game was against the US who were another new team. We basically HAD to win that game. We started off a bit shaky and they scored a couple of goals in the first quarter, but after a stern talking to by our coach, we fired up and ended up winning the game 7-2. It was a great high note to end the tournament on. The men had a harder draw and had to play two of the top teams first - Norway and Colombia. They then played Spain, USA and South Africa which were all close and exciting games and they ended up beating South Africa.
The final games for both the men's and women's teams were on the Friday. It was the final day of games for many of the other teams as well and we organised a couple of Chivas (Colombian party buses) with Spain and Venezuela. It was
an awesome night - we just had to pay COP15,000 (AUD$7.50) and we not only got to ride around the streets of Cali on a pimping party bus (including smoke and foam machines), but we bought a mountain of beers and rum. We then watched the finals on the Saturday. In the female competition, Germany came first and Norway came second; in the males competition, Norway came first, with Germany second. Colombia placed third in both. The afterparty was on the Saturday night at a fancy hotel. We had a buffet dinner and then a dance party in the hall downstairs. Lots of fun partying with a bunch of people from all over the world!
Finally, we finished off with a Lechona at another of Cata's relative's amazing house. The Lechona is a whole pig filled with rice and other goodies and cooked on the BBQ. We spent the day lazing in the pool, dancing with Cata's relatives to the band they'd hired and drinking aguadiente. All in all, a great end to an awesome week!
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