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Family ties push Stinger towards glory in Rio

Aussie Stingers
The Aussie Stingers train at the AIS.

17 Nov 2015

The hunger for sporting success is in the genes of Aussie Stingers player Bronte Halligan.

Her father, Daryl, represented New Zealand 20 times in rugby league and he held the NRL’s point-scoring record of 2034 points when he retired from the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2000. Her sister Devon is a professional surf lifesaver.

Bronte Halligan’s hunger for success has seen her defer her university studies to train full-time with the Australian women’s water polo team, aiming to win gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“Growing up in a household where dad played a lot of NRL and played for the Bulldogs was a big thing for me and my siblings,” said Halligan at a joint Australia-Japan camp at the AIS.

See photos of Stingers v Japan

“My older sister is also a professional surf lifesaver, so it’s big growing up in a big sporting family, but it’s just really pushed us. We’ve been supported a lot in our sport and it’s all been a dream and goal for us to achieve what we can in our sport and do our best.

“Dad’s pretty good at the advice. He supports us with everything. He says ‘train hard, be the best you can in what you do’. He’s the one that wakes us up at 4am.

“He’s the one that drives us to training along with mum - she’s basically our taxi driver too. So it’s been a supportive and good family to grow up in.” 

AIS camp

The three-week AIS camp saw many of the Stingers utilise the Altitude House to improve their aerobic capacity and the team played practice games against the Japanese.

“Japan are a good team to play against in the training games. They’re very fast and just swim a lot. So it’s been really good for our fitness to train against them,” said Halligan, 18, who plays for the Sydney University Lions at club level.

“There’s a bit of pressure that we’re ranked in the top three in the world at the moment, but we’re not number one yet so it’s something to strive for and we’re really excited.

Breaking through

“I was selected in the team about 18 months ago and then about a year ago I almost became full time in the team.

“I finished high school last year and started my first year of uni. I have deferred that now because ultimately Rio and the Olympics is a major goal of mine and the team’s and for that reason we’ve all decided to become full-time athletes and training for Rio is our goal.

“(Coach Greg McFadden) been pushing us to focus on our mental side of our game at the moment. Having a lot of critical conversations and things like that with the girls to make sure we nut out everything so when it does become times when it’s tough we can just focus on playing.

“There’s a big commitment from the team to strive for gold at Rio. A lot of our athletes have gone full time. It means getting up at 4am, 5am every morning, going to the pool, training hard, working in the gym and then during the day you’re getting your physio, you’re getting your recovery, you’re getting your sleep then another training at night.

“It’s hard to be based out of different states but once we’re together in camps like here in Canberra it’s pretty good to be with the girls, a big bunch of girls, and we’re just focused on training and team meetings and working hard.”

Rio event

The Stingers are one of six nations competing in a test event in Rio. . Australia has defeated the Netherlands 9-2 and the US – the reigning Olympic champions – 13-6.

For more information and to follow the Stingers progress in Rio, visit  

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