SOUTH SHIELDS' Angie Winstanley-Smith will be part of the first British women's water polo team to compete at an Olympic Games next month.
Winstanley-Smith was part of a 13-strong squad that was selected yesterday ahead of Britain's women's water polo debut in London.
The 26-year-old, who began her career at Sedgefield Water Polo club, is one of the most experienced members of the British squad.
She is currently based in Manchester, but has spent most of this year travelling to Hungary to represent the British team as they have guested in one of the most competitive domestic leagues in Europe.
"We were going over there every two weeks, and each time the level was really strong," said Winstanley-Smith. "As a team, we've improved so much from it.
"There's only so much you can gain from training and working in the gym, so to get match practice against top-quality opponents was ideal. Hungary became our second home really."
Earlier this year, Winstanley-Smith helped Britain reach the European Championships for the first time in 15 years, and while they have been drawn in a tough group at the Olympics featuring Italy, Russia and 2008 bronze medallists Australia, hopes of a strong showing are high.
Team GB Chef de Mission Andy Hunt said: "Both the men's and women's squads have an abundance of young athletes, which bodes well for the future of the sport.
"While both teams face stiff opposition in their respective groups, I have every confidence that with the support of the home crowd behind them they will deliver very competitive and credible performances."
Great Britain women's water polo schedule:
Monday July 30 - Great Britain vs Russia (2.10pm)
Wednesday August 1 - Great Britain vs Australia (3.30pm)
Friday August 3 - Great Britain vs Italy (2.10pm)