Craig_FigesOctober 29 - The decision to turn professional to boost their chances of doing well at the London 2012 Olympics appears to be paying off for the British men's water polo team.

They face their first challenge of the season tomorrow (October 30) as they take on the might of Georgia in their opening European qualification match.

But world class programmes manager Joanna Wray said: "Their game-awareness has improved having played matches week-in, week-out with their clubs and that can only be a positive.

"They all returned to Manchester [from their professional clubs in Europe] on Sunday looking a lot sharper and ready to get back playing for their country.

"The team played against Georgia last year and only just lost, so they're hoping the extra match preparation they've had with their clubs will earn them the win."

Britain won the gold medal in four of the first five Olympic Games between 1896 and 1920 but have not participated in the Games since Melbourne in 1956.

The team will be hoping for a good showing as they aim to qualify for the LEN European Championships to be held in Eindhoven in 2012.

They will be battling it out with 19 of Europe's most promising water polo teams, including 2009 World Championship silver medallists Spain and five-time European Champions Russia, over the course of the season to compete for just six places.

Great Britain has high hopes after being placed in a group with Georgia and Greece.

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March 2009: David Sparkes - We will do all we can to get water polo to London 2012
December 2008: Funding boost for British water polo