CUMBRIAN water polo stars Alex Rutlidge and Chloe Wilcox have been selected for the Great Britain women’s team for the European Championships in Eindhoven.

Rutlidge, from Burton in Kendal, and Reagill’s Wilcox, helped the squad qualify for the finals between January 16 and 29 as they got through a difficult section that included Spain, Israel and the Ukraine.

The draw for the finals has also been tough on the team as they have been grouped alongside Olympic champions and the host nation, the Netherlands.

The other half of the draw includes Italy, Spain, Germany and Greece.

Alex said: “We are both excited to have been selected for the European Championships as it is the first time for nearly 20 years that GB have qualified.

“We hope to get some good results against some of the top teams in the world in preparation for the London Olympic Games.”

Rutlidge and Wilcox have been training with the British team for several years and were a part of the side that competed in China in 2010 at the World University Games, where Rutlidge said they gained invaluable experience.

GB will face one of the strongest water polo nations when they come up against Hungary in their opening match on January 18, before a tough clash with defending champions Russia on January 20.

The team will complete their group games against the Netherlands on January 22 and the top three teams in each group will qualify for the quarter finals.

Rutlidge and Wilcox also plan to use the competition to cement their place in the Olympics with only 13 of the 17 girls being able to earn selection.

Alex’s mother Julie told The Westmorland Gazette: “We are very proud of the whole team and how they have improved over the last four years is unbelievable.

“We never thought when Alex started playing water polo at Lancaster Swimming Club when she was nine that the future would hold such wonderful things for her.”

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