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Filipovic, Johnson 2015 Waterpoloworld Players of the Year

Serbia's Filip Filipovic and Team USA goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson have won the 2015 Waterpoloworld Players of the Year award after two rounds of online voting by fans from around the world. In the month of December people could vote for 3 men's and 3 women's finalists with Filipovic and Johnson coming out as winners.
The Serbian left-hander, FINA World Best Player of the Year in 2011 and 2014, beat Greek shooter Ioannis Fountoulis and Brazilian driver after over 3,000 votes were registered in the 2 months of voting for the men. Filipovic received a total 1,184 votes from the fans just edging Fountoulis (1,179) although in the final round 268 votes seperated them. Felipe Perrone finished 3rd with a total of 483 votes.
In the women's competition Johnson beat Brazilian leader Izabella Chiappin and Dutch sensation Maud Megens for the win. Just over 2,000 votes were made worldwide for the women in the months of November and December of 2015. The 2015 World Championships Best Goalkeeper received a total of 561 votes just beating Brazil's Chiappini who got 528. Dutch international Megens settled for 3rd place with 473 votes. Johnson will receive her trophy in February.



Filip Filipovic received his award on Wednesday in Belgrade on the occasion of the current ongoing 2016 European Championships and did not hide his appreciation. When asked to reflect on 2015, Filipovic recalled a demaning year: ''With Igor Milanovic as head coach at Pro Recco we won the three major trophies (Champions League, national championships, national cup) in Italy and that was a great success. But it did not came easy since Milanovic was trying to implement a more Serbian play of working and approach of water polo, and that did not always worked out well being in a different environment. But after we still managed to win it all, we needed some days off from water polo before the next 'obligation' was there: getting the Olympic qualification spot at the World League Super Final in Bergamo. Making the switch, especially mentally, to be ready for that was not easy but we did it and that meant a lot. Also because in Kazan at the World Championships we played without the pressure of having to qualify for Rio 2016. And I think that absolutely was a part of our domination there'', Filipovic said.

Filip Filipovic (SRB)

The left-hander was an important part of the start-cast of Pro Recco with whom he became Italian national champion, won the Italian cup and in May claimed the Champions League to complete the 'treble' that season. With the national team, the two-time FINA World Player of the Year (2011, 2014) enjoyed another dominating year as the FINA World League, in Bergamo, Italy and FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia were won while the Serbian team qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games on the first occasion. At the 2015 World Championships Filipovic finished a joint 3rd highest-goal scorer for the Serbian team with 7 goals, a relatively quiet offensive tournament for the 'lefty' but with the 2nd highest number of minutes played, head coach Dejan Savic showed the importance of Filipovic to the team; not only on the offensive end but also in the famous strong Serbian defence.


Filipovic during Tuesday's 20-2 win over Malta at the 2016 European Championships at home in Belgrade.
Photo: Vaterpolo vesti (David Damnjanović).



Ashleigh Johnson (USA)
Ashleigh Johnson experienced her international break-through in 2015, although in 2014 Johnson's name became more and more known outside the US, especially following the Top Goalkeeper honours she received at the 2014 FINA World Cup where she still split time in the net. The 2013 World Junior Championships gold medallist and tournament Top Goalkeeper made headlines at the 2015 World Championships in Kazan where she stood out for Team USA en route to a deserved goal medal completing a successful year in which she also recorded 17 saves in USA's win of the Pan American Games and won the FINA World League Super Final. But with her performance in Kazan she made name for herself emerging as one of the standouts of Team USA which resulted not only in a gold medal win but Johnson also was awarded Gold Medal match MVP and tournament Top Goalkeeper.


Ashleigh Johnson during the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan where USA claimed gold.

Note:

Following the decision by FINA to revise its annual World Best Athletes of the Year criteria, for water polo meaning only best teams of the year will be elected, Waterpoloworld will provide you with an alternative (non-FINA related) voting competition. One run by and decided by you, the fans!

Read FINA's announcement regarding the new FINA Best Athletes of the Year criteria here.

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