It’s been a big month for Anthony Hrysanthos who made his Olympic debut as the Australian men’s water polo team’s goalkeeper in Tokyo.

The 25-year-old Sydneysider recently returned from Japan and has been quarantining with his teammates.

“It’s gone pretty quickly to be honest. We’re in a decent spot as well, so I can’t complain. I’ve just been watching a bit of Netflix on the TV, playing some PlayStation with my teammates, we’re quarantining together so there’s plenty to do. I’ve been waking up late as well,” Hrysanthos told Neos Kosmos. 

Life in the Olympic Village looked very different during the most recent Olympic Games, but the experience was still second to none the athlete explained.

“It’s everything you could ever dream of. Even with the restrictions there and without the spectators it was still a crazy experience. There were still athletes everywhere. Even though people couldn’t be there, they were watching from home. After the win against Croatia, I suddenly had a hundred messages on my phone.  It was amazing to see that there were people that you wouldn’t have thought to see supporting you,” Hrysanthos said.

“We weren’t really allowed to go mingle with other teams but you would see them in the dining hall or you’d speak to them at the pool. Otherwise when we were in the village, we were just mingling with the rest of the Australian team. They had a really good set up for us at the hub in the village. There was a barista and a coffee machine set up just for us and lots of break out rooms and snack rooms so there were plenty of places to socialise with other people.”

The Aussie Sharks were not to able progress through to the quarter finals of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but still managed to clinch two wins out of their five games.

Hrysanthos has also played for the other half of his heritage too, having joined a team in Greece during a stint from 2018 to 2019.

“I was with the Aussie national team before that and just got the offer to go there [Greece]. The contract came for me as I was getting on the plane to go on a six week tour with the Australian team so I had to quickly pack my bags the day before. I was wondering ‘am I going to go straight from there to Greece or come back home?’ So I had to pack a few things just in case and I signed the contract on the plane which was fun,” he said.

While playing for some pretty prestigious teams is definitely a huge perk of his career in water polo, perhaps another bonus for Hrysanthos was finding ‘the one’.

“Leah used to play water polo for the state teams and we just met through those friends. We were the only two Greek people.”

Hrysanthos talks his time in Greece, his pre-game superstitions and his hopes to make another Olympic Games appearance.

READ MORE: Gunning for the girls: Q&A with Alexis Mavrantonis of the Greek Rugby League team 

Australia goalkeeper Anthony Hrysanthos reaches for a shot against Croatia during a preliminary round men’s water polo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics Photo: AAP via AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

What drew you to water polo?

I went to Newington College, which is a private school, and I was a pretty good swimmer all through my younger years in primary school. When I was in year six, my best friend’s dad said that Daniel was going to join Sydney Uni team and asked if I wanted to play. I said ‘yeah, might as well give it a crack’.

That would’ve been back in 2007. I went down to the pool and really enjoyed it and I haven’t looked back since.

It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?

I try to relax and not eat a lot of food beforehand. I’ve just got a lot of rituals and superstitions that I go through. I listen to a bit of music on the bus and go through my exact land warm-up and pool warm-up and that normally gets me focused on what I have to do.

So I do the exact same warm up once I jump into the water. I’ve probably done the exact same amount of laps for the last five or six years. Then when we have our caps on, we line up and jump into the water and do a few jumps in the goals and a few fast strokes. It’s the same routine I’ve done for many years.

Top three training songs?

Oh it’s just whatever comes up next on the playlist. I’m pretty flexible, I don’t have to pick the same song, I just go onto the “Top Hits” that are out at the moment, hit shuffle and go for it.

I don’t mind a little bit of rap, like Eminem and 50 Cent just to get into the groove and then more of the popular people at the moment would be Post Malone.

What do you find most challenging about the game?

It’s probably that because we’re in Australia, we don’t get to play against international opposition much so it’s about trying to prepare yourself as best as you can in Australia, to then go and play a more European style of water polo.

Especially when you think about the Eastern Europeans, they’re a lot more technical with the way that they shoot and that’s probably the hardest part, is trying to get back into the rhythm of saving the ball and being able to read the way in which they’re going to shoot.

What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?

I was able to play professionally in Greece, which was really cool. I played for Vouliagmeni and that was a big highlight for us in the playoff series against Olympiacos. We beat them in a penalty shootout and it was the first time they had lost a domestic league game in, I think around, 150 games.

With the Australian national team, in 2018 we won a silver medal at the World Cup which was really special.

 Anthony Hrysanthos of Australia in action against Roger Tahull Compte of Spain Photo: AAP via Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

How has water polo impacted your life?

It’s given me every opportunity throughout my teens and early 20s. I don’t know where my life would be without it. When I was a young kid I always wanted to represent Australia, go to an Olympics and I never would have thought that it would’ve been through something like water polo. It’s given me the opportunity to travel overseas, live overseas, have a lot of sporting success and even meet my fiancée. We’re getting married in January which is really exciting.

What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?

Just how mentally resilient I could be and my ability to handle some of the most extreme pressure situations you can face. It’s reassuring and really positive to know that when your back’s against the wall that you can still push forward and do something really good.

What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

In terms of sport, I want to take a bit of time off because I haven’t had a proper break throughout my entire career. I think the Australian team is going to go through a bit more of a rebuilding, so we’ll see how that works out and hopefully I’ll be a part of that.

Personally, I’d like to try and get married, focus a bit more on family and see where it goes. It’s pretty fortunate that it’s only a short turnaround until the next Olympics so it should be something pretty exciting.

What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?

I’m a pretty boring guy, I don’t have anything too crazy going on outside of water polo. I mean, it’s probably that I’m a physiotherapist.

Favourite way to unwind after a game?

Probably playing on the PlayStation. It’s good to not stress about anything that’s happened before, or that’s about to happen in future. You can just focus on what’s going on when you’re playing. I’m usually playing Call of Duty with a few of my teammates.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Just to have some time off and make the most of letting my body rest and recover. The last five years has been especially tough whilst carrying a few injuries. I’m ready to rest, recover and recharge to make another push towards the end of the year.

What is something you want to be remembered by?

If you think position wise, I’m a goalkeeper and I’m probably the smallest goalkeeper internationally. So for me it’s about being able to succeed and go past your potential, especially when there are people that might doubt your ability.

I just want to be a good example of how hard work pays off and just being really dedicated to what you want to achieve.