Water Polo Profile: Spain’s Judith Forca Eager to Chase Olympic Glory

Judith Forca

Water Polo Profile: Spain’s Judith Forca Eager to Chase Olympic Glory

If Judith Forca has her way, 2024 will be the best year ever for Spanish women’s water polo. Which would be quite the accomplishment. Forca, Swimming World’s 2023 Female Player of the Year and her teammates were tremendous last year, capturing silver at the World Championships in Japan.

With the European Championships underway in the Netherlands, and the Paris Olympics just seven months away, Forca predicts unprecedented success for Spain.

“We have very high expectations for 2024,” she said. “We aim for triple gold: European, World, and Olympics.”

Lofty goals, indeed. But not unrealistic for Forca, whose excellent year included her Spanish professional team, CN Sabadell, winning the 2023 LEN Champions League title. The 27-year-old was in the middle of all of that success. With 23 goals, she was the leading female goal-scorer at last year’s World Championships. She also notched a hat trick as Sabadell beat Spanish rival CN Mataro in the LEN final.

An eight-year veteran of her country’s national team, Forca draws high praise from Maggie Steffens, a three-time Olympic gold medalist with the U.S. who also plays for Sabadell.

“Out of the water, she’s a joy to be around,” said Steffens, who has extensive experience as Forca’s teammate and opponent. “She brings such great energy and makes those around her smile—and does the same in the water. You can always count on her to step up in big moments and put the ball away.”

Forca credits her success to teamwork and harmony. “Day by day effort has paid off; we have been working very hard for years,” she explained. “Outside of the water, we also get along very well. We spend a lot of time together and are like a family.”

Steffens echoed that togetherness makes Spain tough to beat—because of their sensational lefty.

Judith Forca

Courtesy: World Aquatics

“Judith has great connections with those she plays with. Although she’s a star for scoring goals, she’s also a star for her assists and setting others up. And she’ll always smile in the biggest of pressure moments.”

If Forca and her Spanish teammates are to excel in Paris, they will likely have to overcome Steffens and her mates who are on an historic streak of success, capturing three consecutive gold medals (2012, 2016, 2020). The U.S. dominated Spain in the Olympic finals three years ago at the Tatsumi Water Polo Centre, winning 14-5.

The Americans might be favored in 2024, but women’s water polo competition at the all new Paris Aquatic Centre will be as close as any in Olympic history.

“It’s true that the United States has won the last three Olympic golds, but the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, and Greece are also doing very well,” said Forca, who added that Spain must be “solid in defense and quick and tough in attack” to win a first-ever Olympic gold.

When it comes to fans, Americans will be at a disadvantage to their top rivals. Paris is easily accessible, giving European squads a distinct edge, especially after spectators were not permitted at the Tokyo Olympics due to Covid 19 restrictions.

“I believe (Paris 2024) will be an incredible edition of the Olympic Games,” Forca said. “I’m excited that the games are in Paris, close to Spain, and that all of Europe fans can come to watch “

That, and a deep squad which also features Elena Ruiz, one of the sport’s exciting young players, suggests a fantastic Olympic opportunity for Spain.

A hectic year for Forca and her teammates has already begun—they have already advanced to the European Championship finals—but the Spanish star remains philosophical regarding the excitement to come.

“Many matches are coming at both national team and club levels, but that’s the beauty of sports—the moment of competition.”

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