Most water polo players come from swimming or started in the sport. Roberta Bianconi came from artistic swimming and it shows through now with the way she plays and impresses with every touch of the ball.

Roberta tells Scoring Goals just her old she is and how it affects her play, if any.

“I’m very close to 35, but I’m not thinking about — the age is just a number, in my opinion. I think that because I have the passion and I enjoy playing my sport, why stop playing? I just live the moment.”

Image Source: Roberta Bianconi (ITA)/Getty Images/World Aquatics

From 2012 London and 2016 Rio, 2024 Paris would be Roberta’s third Olympic Games, but the Italian team has yet to be named.

“Paris would be my third Olympics and for now I don’t know yet if I will participate, but anyway, I’m thinking to enjoy the trip that I hope will get me there — all the training, the funny moments with the team — I’m trying to create good memories, because the Olympics are never certain.”

Italy failed to qualify for Tokyo 2020 after filling the silver-medal position at Rio 2016.

What was it like playing in that Olympic final with United States of America?

“The Olympic final is something special, something that you dream of all your life and when you get there, you feel in the seventh heaven. It would be nice to live again that feeling and emotions.”

Was it disappointing not qualifying for Tokyo 2020?

“Not qualifying for Tokyo was the most painful moment. Nothing went right; sometimes things have to be like this and we just have to accept it, go on and train harder for the next time.”

Image Source: Roberta Bianconi (ITA)/Getty Images/World Aquatics

How strong is the urge for gold for you and the team?

“We train hard for three years to get the qualification at first and after that we are training every day, dreaming of the final. I don’t know if we’ll get it, but we’ll do our best to get there.”

Finishing fourth at Europeans then seventh at Worlds this year; explain how the team processed these results:

“We were not totally satisfied after those two events. We thought we could qualify from the Europeans, then the more you postpone, the more difficult it becomes. After that we cancelled the fact and we restarted to train harder.”

What do you think the team needs to do to win gold?

“There are no rules to win the gold. The team that will make less mistakes during all matches, that will be more motivated, more focused and will do things that you train for, will win.”

What is the motivation to join the 2004 Italian team as Olympic champions?

“The team of 2004 Olympics is an example for us and from which we can just learn. They will be in our memories forever. About us, we are training to get the same result. The times have changed and water polo also, but the dream is the same.”

Roberta started with the senior national team at the 2009 Rome World Championships after being a latecomer to the sport at 15 years, in 2004, “by accident, after seven-eight years of artistic swimming”. 

“Being honest, 2004 (Italian) success was a motivation for me. I followed some friends and I’m from Recco, so I knew water polo as a sport, but I didn’t know anything about women’s water polo.”

Image Source: Roberta Bianconi (ITA)/Getty Images/World Aquatics

What will Roberta Bianconi do once the Paris Olympics have faded into the distance?

“For now, I’m just thinking to get the best result at the Olympics, then I will see about my future and also about what I want to achieve, but for sure, I want to continue to have fun and enjoy my sport, then the result will come. After the Olympics I will decide everything,” she said.

Fine Winning Record

For the record, Roberta has almost done it all — Olympic silver in 2016, world championship bronzes in 2015 and 2023; European gold in 2012 and bronzes in 2016 and 2022; plus three World League silvers — 2011, 2014 and 2019.

Then there are the European club trophies: LEN Trophy with Rapallo in 2011; LEN Euro League in 2012 with Pro Recco; LEN Super Cup in 2011 with Pro Recco; the Serie A1 crown in 2012, also with Pro Recco; and with Olympiacos she won the 2015 LEN Euro League, the 2015 LEN Super Cup and the Greek championships of 2015, 2016 ad 2017. With Ekipe Orizzonte, she won the LEN Trophy in 2019, the Serie A1 title in 2019 and Coppa Italia in 2018.