Bridgette Gusterson OAM
Water Polo | Inducted: 2006
Born Bentley, W.A.
4 February, 1973
As a ten year-old, Bridgette Gusterson had a clear and precise goal. She wanted to go to the Olympics. The only problem was, she didn't have a sport. Her first choice was gymnastics but her height was always going to be an obstacle.
She was a strong swimmer and with the Bicton pool just two minutes from her home and her older sister, Danielle, already playing water polo, the choice became logical. And so began a career that that set the standard for Australian female water polo players and culminated with an Olympic gold medal.
Gusterson's tall, athletic frame lent itself to most positions in the pool but she was to develop into the best centre forward in the world during her time. Her physical attributes were matched by her fierce determination to succeed. She remembers as a junior, wanting to be the best player, the captain, the leading goal scorer and to go to the Olympics. And she was to fulfill all of those childhood goals.
She worked hard on her technical skills, reflexes and her fitness under a succession of coaches and was renowned as an accurate and clever shooter. A unique body action allowed her to get away from opponents before releasing a shot and as a strong swimmer she was also dangerous on the count-attack.
She first played for Australia in 1992 and subsequently represented her country in 212 internationals, scoring more than 400 goals. She was a member of the team that won the FINA World Cup in 1995 and she won numerous Player of the Tournament and Leading Goal Scorer awards. She was the first Australian woman to receive a professional contract to play in Europe, representing the Italian club, Orrizonte from 1995 to 1997.
Her crowning glory was the inaugural Olympic women's tournament in 2000. Having assumed the captaincy of the team in 1998, Gusterson scored the winning goal in the semi-final against Russia with a clever flick shot over the goal keeper's shoulder. The final was even more dramatic with Australia clinching the gold medal with 1.3 seconds left in the match. She shared her Olympic triumph with her sister, Danielle.
Gusterson retired after the 2000 Olympic Games, having earned a reputation as the best and most dominant player in the world in her time.