Jennifer Pareja has helped propel her team to a competition first…
The 29-year-old Spanish female water polo player, the captain of Spain’s women’s water polo team, scored two goals, including a late penalty to help her team beat Australia 8-6 on Friday in Barcelona.
With the win, Spain becomes the first host country to win the women’s water polo world championship.
Spain, which won the silver medal at the 2012 London Games, never trailed at Bernat Picornell pool in front of the rowdy home fans.
It was Spain’s first gold medal and 11th in total at the worlds.
“I’m flipping out, I’m so happy,” said Pareja. “This is possibly, no, not possibly, this is the best moment of my sporting life. The final in London was incredible, but when you win and are world champion it’s beyond incredible.”
Australia, the bronze medalist from the London Games, was undefeated going into the final but never got closer than down 4-3 in the second quarter.
Earlier, Hungary claimed the bronze, beating Russia 10-8.
Spain got going with a goal by center forward Maria Godoy and went into halftime with a 5-3 lead after driver Roser Tarrago scored with a long shot with the shot clock winding down.
“Winning in front of 4,000 people is indescribable,” said Tarrago. “That support made us push hard to win. We could not lose again in the finals like the Olympics.”
Spain beat Olympic champion United States in the quarterfinals and Hungary in the semifinals.
The Spanish team and fans began celebrating during an Australian timeout with 12 seconds to go, and then dove into the pool with the coaching staff after the final whistle.