Kayes plays key role for Australia in Olympic water polo

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FAMILY AFFAIR: Mount Maunganui's Kayes family at Rio Olympics. From left: Dorcas Kayes, Paul Kayes, Julia Kayes, Joe Kayes, Ella Brown (partner), Danny Kayes. PHOTO/SUPPLIED 090816sp17BOP
FAMILY AFFAIR: Mount Maunganui's Kayes family at Rio Olympics. From left: Dorcas Kayes, Paul Kayes, Julia Kayes, Joe Kayes, Ella Brown (partner), Danny Kayes. PHOTO/SUPPLIED 090816sp17BOP

Water polo
Former Mount Maunganui resident Joe Kayes has played a pivotal role in Australia's first two matches of the Rio 2016 Olympics.

The Australian Sharks took on Brazil on Sunday in both their own and the host's first game at Rio.

The Kayes family from Mount Maunganui were in attendance in the stands among a mostly Brazilian crowd which made for a huge atmosphere for the opener.

Whilst the Sharks were behind from the get-go, Kayes had a big presence in the pool and was influential to bring Australia back into the game. He drew a penalty, exclusions, and scored a goal from extra-man.

The Aussies eventually went down 7-8 to Brazil.

In Tuesday morning's match Kayes lined up against some familiar faces from his years playing professionally in Hungary at Szeged Beton.

Kayes helped the Aussies keep their medal hopes afloat by contributing a goal in the 9-9 draw with a key pass on the hand from Howden that Kayes then slammed into the back of the net.

Kayes' father Paul, who founded the Tauranga Water Polo club where his son found his love for the sport, described the game as "brilliant and exciting".

"Massive defence - excellent draw with Hungary. This is going to be a really close competition," he said.

With three games left in the preliminary round, the Aussies will need at least one win to keep their podium dream alive - they take on Japan at 12am on Thursday morning.

Most recently, the Aussie Sharks played Japan twice at June's FINA World League Super Final, winning 13-7 and 12-7 which is a distance away from Kayes' debut as a 17-year-old in the New Zealand men's team in 2008 where the Kiwis went down to the Japanese 7-14 and 8-15.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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