Twelve of the 546 Olympic medals that China has achieved in its history were in team sports. The association is not the stronghold of the Chinese. Neither of the Chinese. Nor in the water, where the more or less artificial conformation of a women’s water polo team to play the Beijing Games resulted in the apparent but irregular team that fell against Spain in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Games. For the selection of Pili Pena, Laura Ester and the Espar sisters, the first quarter of the game was enough to channel a tie that places them in the semifinals. The 11-7 of the final score confirmed the control of the Spanish experts.
Petar Porobic, the Montenegrin coach, cursed at the edge of the pool every time his players were unable to pierce the defense ordered by Laura Ester. Desperate, the man swore in some Balkan dialect, unintelligible to his players, that they only received his instructions through a translator.
The lack of fluency in communication carried over to the pool, where China was exhausting to move the ball with precision in front of a defense that did not stop moving at full speed. The pressure from the Spanish women caused losses and moodiness in their rivals, exposed from the first plays to the rigor of Paula Leiton and Maica García in both areas. China could only convert two of eight chances with one other swimmer. Not even with two others did he manage to turn his scoring chance into a striking action in the third quarter. The fierceness of the Spanish defense, above and below the water, was intimidating.
Spain took advantage of the first superiority, courtesy of a Leiton skirmish, so that Roser Tarragó enabled Bea Ortiz. The Tarrasa player feigned to the left and hit the whip to the right. The ball went through the left post of the quick Chinese goalkeeper after deceiving the entire defense. On the 1-0 Spain cemented its escape.
Yiwen Lu’s (1-1) response in an individual action did not stem the tide. Irene González (2-1) and Tarragó herself (3-1) punished their rivals before Maica García scored the goal of the match. Assisted with a balloon by Tarrago, the Spanish buoy got rid of the grip of its marker, caught the ball and turned with an unstoppable waist blow for the four defenders and the goalkeeper who came to suffocate it. The 4-1 was a devastating blow to the morale of the Chinese team. The first quarter of eight minutes ended 5-2. The three quarters that remained from the game constituted a long administrative passage, calmly managed by the Spanish, especially by Judith Forca, who wore her wrist in four goals.
Subscribe here to our special newsletter about the Tokyo Games