Meghan Maartens

Decorated Madibaz water polo goalkeeper Meghan Maartens will be in a defensive mood when she leaves for her next international assignment early next month.

The 24-year-old Tokyo Olympian has a second date with the land of the rising sun when she represents South Africa at the World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka from July 14 to 30.

Maartens, who was an integral member of the national squad who competed in a World Cup qualifying tournament in Berlin last month, said one could never be complacent about selection.

“Every time it happens it feels like the first time,” she said. “To be able to sing the national anthem on the international stage always brings me to tears.”

It is a privilege to compete against the best in the world but even more so to represent everyone back home, she said.

With the Olympic Games box now ticked, Maartens was aware of the need to set new goals.

“That is what I’m currently working on,” she said without going into specifics.

The Nelson Mandela University student felt that the team were starting to come together “really well” as they intensified their training ahead of the Worlds.

Meghan Maartens

Madibaz water polo goalkeeper Meghan Maartens will represent South Africa at the World Aquatics Championships in Japan next month. Photo: Supplied

“I’m excited by the challenge. It’s awesome to be part of this.”

Maartens, who is obliged to share her sporting ambitions with the demands of a postgraduate certificate in education, has been focusing on strength and conditioning work in honing her game ahead of the global event.

Although the South Africans failed to qualify for the World Cup in Los Angeles after only managing to beat Uzbekistan and Ukraine, the trip to Germany proved worthwhile as they improved hand over fist throughout.

“We ended up in the top four, which is really good considering we only had two days of training before the tournament began.”

Madibaz Sport water polo manager Melinda Goosen said it had been a delight to witness the development of Maartens from rookie to world-class athlete.

“Meghan is such a talent and has grown so much over the years to become the player she is today. To have been able to watch her has been such a privilege.”

Her selection showed what could be achieved if you applied yourself, said Goosen, who believed her accomplishments would inspire a new generation of Madibaz players.

“She is someone that the younger players can definitely look up to.”