Balmain cousins Bronwyn Smith (nee Mayer) and Gavin Woods inducted into the Water Polo Australia (WPA) Hall of Fame

Published Sun 17 Mar 2019

Water Polo Australia Hall of Fame – 2019

Republished from

On Friday 18 January 2019 Balmain cousins Bronwyn Smith (nee Mayer) and Gavin Woods were inducted into the Water Polo Australia (WPA) Hall of Fame on Friday at a gala ceremony held in Brisbane.

Dual Olympian Smith, together with four-time Olympian Woods, were inducted alongside István Görgényi, who coached Smith and her team mates to a gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The deserving members of the Hall of Fame, Smith and Woods started their playing careers at Balmain, the club they are still involved with. Water polo was the sport of choice for the family, with Woods’ father David a dual Olympian (Munich 1972, Montreal 1976) and his sister Taryn also a member of the gold medal winning team from the Sydney Olympics.

Gavin’s father David, Bronwyn’s uncle, is also a Water Polo Australia member of the WPA Hall of Fame.


Bronwyn Smith (nee Mayer)

 [Bronwyn Smith (nee Mayer]

Gavin Woods

 [Gavin Woods]

Bronwyn was destined for a career on the international stage. She was crowned junior national champion in 1992 and made her international debut the same year as part of Australia’s bronze medal winning team at the Canada Cup. Smith was 13 years on the national team earning 222 caps with her greatest achievement coming at the Sydney Olympics in which women’s water polo made its Olympic debut. As a driver, her offensive abilities were pivotal to Australia’s success and she scored in both Australia’s 7-6 semi-final win over Russia and 4-3 defeat of the United States in the final.  Gavin is part of a select group of Australian water polo players who have competed at four Olympic Games (Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012). A world class centre forward, he played an important role in Australia’s bronze medal winning teams at the FINA World League Finals in Berlin (2007) and Genoa (2008). He played 345 international games for Australia and was captain for eight of these. 

For Smith remembers her time on the Australian team fondly.

“Winning the World Cup in ’95 was really special, the bronze medal at the ‘98 World Champs in Perth was also special… but really it’s just all the memories over the years travelling with a great group of girls and coaches and a life time of memories,” said a humbled Smith.

Throughout her career, from her time as a Balmain junior right through to the Olympic Games, Smith had many Coaches who inspired.

“Definitely István, he really bought a different style of play into Australia and we really loved all his drills.

“But also my uncle David, he coached me from when I started out at 13 years of age, he was a special coach… and also Phil Bower and Les Kay.

“As I grew up I really admired my uncle (David Woods), I thought it was so amazing how he’d been to two Olympic Games and as soon as we were able to we just started playing water polo.

Woods said it was a privilege to accept the Hall of Fame award alongside his cousin and join his late father as a Hall of Fame member.

“It’s a real humbling honour. I know there a lot of great people out there in our sport that do a lot of great work.

“I was a bit surprised but I’m very grateful to be accepted into the Hall of Fame, it’s amazing.

“Water Polo has been a big part of my life, it’s given me so many amazing experiences and opportunities… I got to travel the world and see some pretty interesting places.

“But the main thing is the opportunities it gave me to compete all around the world in the major events and competitions against the best in the world and to represent Australia.

“It’s nice to be alongside dad in the Hall of Fame, I know he loved water polo and he could never do enough for the sport and he was also so grateful that his kids got involved.

“This is a really enjoyable sport, and that’s the one thing that kept me going is the comradery, the experiences… any team sport is really great but water polo seems to be really social, fun environment for kids to grow up in,” said Woods.

After a stellar playing career that saw him win an Olympic silver medal with the Hungarian men’s water polo team (1972 Munich), István Görgényi turned his hand to coaching. After several roles with overseas Clubs, he located to Australia. In 1994 Gorgenyi was appointed head coach of the Victorian Intensive Training Centre. In 1996 he was made AWPI national development coach and coach of the national junior team. Gorgenyi was appointed coach of the Australian women’s water polo team in 1998 becoming the inaugural AIS women’s water polo coach. He went on to guide the team to a historic victory at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

István brought a new style of play to the women’s program and left a lasting legacy. Naomi Castle accepted the award on his behalf, but István had this to say about his induction.

It is a great honour for me to be inducted into the WPA Hall of Fame.  Ifelt a great hnour 24 years ago when I was appointed to establish the Victorian ITC program in Melbourne, then to coach and the Australian mens junior team, then again, in 1998 when I was given the opportunity to establish the AIS Women’s Water Polo Program.

“I thank my staff members and our players who did everything possible for that spectacular, skill focused mobile game that led us to win the gold medal at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

“I am proud that we walked through the back door and produced that success in such as way that our final is still amongst the most memorable moments of Australian Olympic achievements.

“I am proud of the motivating creative culture we established.  That journey was a gift of life for me.

The Water Polo Australia Hall of Fame recognises those individuals who have made an exceptional contribution over an extended period of time to water polo as a player, administrator, coach, referee or in another capacity.

Read more about Balmain Water Polo Players in the WPA Hall of Fame >

Go to Water Polo Australia Hall of Fame >




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