Australia’s National Women’s water polo team, the Aussie Stingers are currently in camp training with the Chinese National team in Canberra, ahead of a two-game test match series which will be held at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre on Saturday 11 & Sunday 12 August.

The series will provide both teams with an international bout before the FINA Women's Water Polo World Cup in September.

TWG will be following the Aussie Stingers while they are in Russia, where they will be looking to redeem themselves after taking home the silver medal in 2014 against long-time rivals, Team USA.

In the lead up, TWG will be speaking to some of the Stingers to get their perspective on the World Cup as well letting you, our readers get to know these super fierce female athletes.

Fast Facts

Full Name: Hannah Matheson Buckling

Nickname: HB
Age: 26
Started Playing: 2004
Position: Centre Back (CB)
Preferred Cap No: #3
First Club: Sydney Northern Beaches Breakers
Current Club /Team: Sydney University Lions
Fun fact: I can eat a whole McDonalds cheeseburger in one bite.

Starting on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Hannah Buckling was only 12 years old when she first started playing water polo. Today, she’s on the #TowardsTokyo campaign trail to make her 2nd Olympic team while studying Medicine at The University of Sydney.

TWG: How are preparations for the World Cup in Russia going? Are you excited for the team that is being put together for a strong campaign?

HB: Preparations for World Cup are going well so far. We are currently in Canberra training with China, and even have two home test games against them in Sydney before flying to America for our final preparations. This year our team has come a long way, and I am excited to put into practice everything we have been working on until now.

TWG: You are aiming to make the Aussie Stingers for a 2nd Olympics. How have you managed to schedule training, playing in the Australian Water Polo League (AWL) all while studying Medicine?

HB: Everyone always asks me this question, and I find it a tough one to answer. I think that when you have the opportunity to do two things that you love, you just make it work! I now use study as my water polo break, and water polo as my study break. I also don't sleep very much these days!

Image Courtesy: Lauren - Beyond the Break

Like many Australian water polo athletes, Hannah travelled to the US and attended the University of Southern California (USC). With a rich history of success, Hannah was part of the 2013 Trojans team that won their 4th NCAA Championship. USC have since won two more championships in 2016 & 2018.

TWG: You spent a season in the US playing for the USC Trojans and won the NCAA Championship? How was that experience? How does water polo differ from the US to Australia?

HB: Playing at USC was one of the most incredible experiences! Winning an NCAA Championship was, at the time, unlike anything I had ever experienced. Being a part of a team that had worked so hard, and seeing that hard work pay off in the end was so rewarding. I am also still so close with so many of my teammates, which is the thing I treasure the most.

Playing college sport and studying at the same time is also made so easy. We lived almost on campus, and rode our bikes 5 minutes to get to practice, and another 5 minutes to get to class. Very different from sitting in Sydney traffic every day!

The OVO AWL (formerly National Water Polo League) is Australia’s highest water polo league, that runs from around the end of January - April each year. In 2018, 11 teams made up the League, with Hannah playing for the Sydney University Lions.

The Lions have been in the Championship final for four consecutive years, having walked away with 2x silver medals and 2x gold medals.

TWG: There are a number of Aussie Stingers that also play together for the Sydney University Lions in the AWL. What does it mean to you to go through the journey together?

HB: Sydney Uni is such a tight knit community, so to go through the Olympic Journey with so many of my club mates is amazing. We also like to think we bring a little of our Lions connection into our National Team!

TWG: Final Question...What advice would you give to aspiring female athletes?

HB: My Mum always encouraged me to try everything and give it 100%. She showed me that if you set your mind to doing something you're passionate about, incredible things happen. But it is only through giving it a try, and having resilience when it doesn’t work out the first, second or even third time, that you can see what you’re truly capable of.

You can see Hannah in action along with her fellow Aussie Stingers at Sydney Olympic Park this weekend when they take on China. Follow Water Polo Australia on Facebook to be kept up to date on times and ticketing information.