While she was waiting for her flight back to the Netherlands, Iris Wolves telephoned to talk about the bizarre week she’s just had. In Italy, she picked up a ticket for the Olympic Games together with her Dutch water polo teammates. Their goal was clear in advance: reach the finals and the Games would be a reality. The celebrations started immediately after beating Greece (7-4) in the semi-finals. “We sat on the bench for the final three minutes, crying with joy. So great, and such a relief. We played a fantastic tournament, so all that training in recent months really paid off.”

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Wolves’ relief is understandable. The qualification tournament, which was the final opportunity for the team to qualify, had been postponed for over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. This added even more doubts to all the uncertainties created by the coronavirus. “That uncertainty has now gone. We’re going to Tokyo. It’s really fantastic to know where we stand.”

Because of the pandemic, the tournament was different from usual. “No spectators, stay in your room; it was nowhere near as exciting. Normally we would have gone to celebrate in the city after qualifying, but that’s not possible now. We did hold small party in the lounge at our hotel, though.”

Even though all that tension has gone, that doesn’t mean she can go enjoy a well-earned holiday. Teammates who play in the Dutch competition have two weeks off, but Wolves is catching a flight to Barcelona this week. “I have to play for my club again next week. So yes, I’m a bit jealous of my teammates.”

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