By Steven Oldham, Sports Correspondent
Richard Lawlor is set to be part of the first Great Britain water polo to compete at the Olympic Games in over 50 years this summer.
He and his team-mates – currently training six days a week at the Manchester Aquatics Centre – played all over Europe last season to improve their skills in the professional leagues on the continent, where the standard is much higher than here.
As a result, Richard, who made his debut for GB in 2008, spent the season in Spain at CD Turia – and learnt a new language as a result – he now knows how to order two beers in Spanish at least!
Let’s see what he thinks of our questions.
What is the first Olympic Games you can remember watching?
I remember Barcelona 1992. (But you were only born in 1989?! – S.O.) I remember the diving board being really high in the mountains! That image sticks in my mind. From Atlanta, Sir Steve Redgrave in the rowing, I remember that too. At the last Olympics I remember watching hours and hours of archery for no apparent reason. You know what it’s like, you end up watching everything at the Games.
Who is your favourite Olympian (past and present) and why?
Mark Spitz. He did it in Speedos and he had a ‘tache – what more do you want?! Seriously though, to do what he did (Swimmer Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Games in Munich) at his time was excellent. Things like centralised funding, sponsorship and lottery money were nowhere near as common as they are today. He did it without all those things, and without all the full body wetsuits that make you quicker – just a pair of Speedos.
In the present day, there’s a few. I like Jenny Meadows – she’s from Wigan. She’s a great athlete as well. Phillips Idowu is a great ambassador for the sport. He’s got a lot of character and is a funny guy on Twitter.
If water polo didn’t exist and you had the talent to represent Team GB in another Olympic sport, which one would you choose?
I quite fancy myself as a footballer. I might be a bit too tall and gangly though. Having saying that Peter Crouch has made a career out of it!
If you could pick another sport to add to the Olympics, what would it be?
I’d like to see rugby union or rugby league added to the Games. If they followed the football tournament model – i.e. made it for the under 23’s – I reckon it would really take off. It would give the younger guys who might not go to the World Cup or Six Nations for example a once in a lifetime opportunity to get an Olympic medal. You might see surprise results as well with the youth from upcoming countries taking their chance – like Belarus have to qualify for the football this summer.
Richard’s team-mate Rob Parker also completed our Olympics Q&A session – keep your eyes on Mancunian Matters on Sunday to read his answers.
Follow Steven Oldham on Twitter: @spoldham