Goldfields links to Olympic Games extended by locally-born water polo star

Neale HarveyKalgoorlie Miner
Luke Pavillard
Camera IconLuke Pavillard Credit: Photo: Zac Hudson/Water Polo Australia.

The Goldfields’ strong links with the Olympic Games extends to Paris 2024 with the selection of Luke Pavillard to the Australian men’s water polo team.

Born in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Pavillard, 28, took up water polo in Perth during his early teenage years on the influence of his father, Hugh.

Hugh Pavillard arrived in the Goldfields in the mid-1980s and was a key figure when water polo was among the biggest participation sports at the old Lord Forrest Olympic Pool.

It included a mid-1990s stint on the State League roster of the now-defunct Goldfields Vikings.

After the family left the region about 1998, a young Luke began his water polo journey with the Melville Sharks at the Bicton Baths.

“My wife and I had a philosophy to get our kids into organised sports (and) Luke flourished,” Hugh Pavillard said.

“That was when he was 12 — he fairly quickly then went to the under-14 national championships and again flourished.

“I guess he first rose to prominence at the 18 and under championships in Hobart in 2011, when he was only 15 or 16, when he was the second-highest scorer behind (future Australian captain) Nathan Power.”

It was followed by Australian selection for the 2012 world youth championships in Perth.

The following year, Pavillard earned Australian selection for the World 20-and-under Championships in Hungary.

By 2015, Pavillard was in the Australian Sharks squad, but he severed those ties in favour of a move to the US and a place on the water polo team at the University of the Pacific in California.

By the end of his US stint, Pavillard had scored 248 goals and been named Golden State Conference Player of the Year twice in three seasons.

Pavillard returned to Australia in 2020.

He missed selection for the Tokyo Olympics, but moved into the professional ranks with a three-year contract with Barceloneta in Europe’s lucrative Champions League.

He strikes an imposing figure at 197cm and 105kg, but his father said he was bulking up ahead of a return to the Champions League.

The men’s water polo program at the Paris Olympics runs from July 28 to August 11 at Paris La Defense Arena.

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