San Diego, CA - July 7 - U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team Head Coach Dejan Udovicic has revealed the 13 athletes that will compete for Team USA this August at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The team was introduced today for the first time in a press conference held on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, CA.
Four returners are back from the 2012 Olympic Team to guide the squad including captain and Rio native Tony Azevedo. With this selection Azevedo becomes the first five-time Olympian in USA Water Polo history. A 2008 Silver Medalist, Azevedo is joined by fellow Olympic medalists Jesse Smith and Merrill Moses. Smith heads to his fourth Olympic Games while Moses preps for his third Olympics. Rounding out the returners is center John Mann who was a first-time Olympian in 2012.
Nine newcomers makeup the rest of the Olympic Games roster, a stark contrast from 2012 where 11 of 13 athletes were returners from the 2008 team. Drawn into Group B, the U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team will open play in Rio on August 6 against defending Olympic champion, Croatia. From there they will take on Spain, France, Montenegro, and Hungary. The medal round is scheduled for August 20.
Currently ranked sixth in the world, Team USA is coming off a silver medal performance at the FINA World League Super Final last month. The medal was their first in a major FINA competition since winning silver at the 2008 Olympic Games.
The USA Men qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games by defeating Canada in the semifinal round of the 2015 Pan American Games 9-8. The team would go on to claim gold at the event, defeating Brazil 11-9 in the title match.
Prior to their introduction the team was greeted by Mac McLaughlin, President and CEO of the USS Midway Museum.
All nominations to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team Head Coach Dejan Udovicic
"I will start from the day I came here, three years ago. It was weekend of May 30, 2013, and from that day, I started the journey here. A hell of a journey, I must say. It’s not easy to handle me, you know. I need to thank USA Water Polo to give me this golden opportunity to work with these guys, from the first day, I can feel here as part of the family. Thank Chris (Ramsey), thanks Marty (Samuels), thanks everybody in the USAWP office. I need to thanks to all my assistants, Jack (Kocur), Alex (Rodriguez), Rick (McKee), Anthony (Darmiento) and Carling (McMichael). You did a magnificent job. I know I’m not easy to handle me. Sometimes, I’m a tough guy. This is what I am and I’m not trying to change myself."
"When the players stepping up, I heard so many times repeating, first Olympics, first Olympics. Maybe it’s scary, scary thought, scary thing, but I’m proud of what they did. I’m proud of these guys, I’m proud to stand in front of them."
"I also need to thank all the guys who was with us last three years, I trained 40-50 players from the last three years to get what we got right now."
"I also need to thank the guys who were last cut, it was not an easy decision. But, a coach needs to do what a coach needs to do. I’m standing here, as I said, proud of the guys that I’m standing in front of and I made the right choice. And thinking what I need to say, what would be smart to say, in the end, I choose one thing. We succeeded to win the first medal after eight years (at 2016 FINA World League Super Final). We succeeded as a team, as a staff, to improve a lot of players, technical skills and tactical skills and everything. This is ok, for the coach, for sure to be satisfied, but I am most satisfied, I think it will be my greatest achievement, with this team to follow them and to take them, to have them follow me, we’re going to share the values, the same talks and the same goal, from now to the future."
"This team, in front of this team is a bright future and I’m looking forward to sharing it with them. Thank you guys for doing this and thank you to them. I’m looking forward to the Olympic Games."
Tony Azevedo, U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team Captain - Headed To Fifth Olympic Games
"I want to thank the guys that were cut, we’re really only as strong as the guys who were with us training for 8 months, nonstop sacrificing their lives, to make us as good as we can be, we won’t achieve anything without those guys."
We’re the only team in the world that’s trained nonstop for eight months. We’ve gotten better every month, it’s exciting to see. I think we’re going to be a team that everyone’s afraid of. I know they’re already afraid of us and be ready. In Rio, we’re going to be one of the best teams in the world and I’m really excited and proud to play with these guys."
2016 U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team (Hometown/School/USAWP Club)
About USA Water Polo
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