U.S. Women's Water Polo Team Makes History as Back-to-Back Champions Days After Coach's Heartbreaking Loss
The team is now back-to-back Olympic champions – a historic first
The U.S. women’s water polo team has done it again – and it wasn’t even close.
The team took home the gold Friday in their dominant final match against Italy, winning 12-5, at the Rio Olympic Games. This marks the first time a country has won back-to-back Olympic championships in women’s water polo history.
But the end result was not a surprise: The team has been dominant throughout competition, defeating Brazil 13-3 in the quarterfinals and Hungary 14-10 in the semifinals.
They won all six of their games by a total 73-32 margin, according to The Washington Post.
Among the stars at Friday’s final were Rachel Fattal, Mackenzie Fischer, goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson (the first African-American to make the team) and Kylie Neushel. Fattal, Fischer and Neushel together scored seven of the team’s 12 goals.
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“Win #gold [check] … Throw your coach in the pool [check],” NBC tweeted after the win, showing coach Adam Krikorian getting pushed into the pool after the historic win.
It was a bittersweet celebration: Just one day before the games’ opening ceremony, Krikorian left Rio when he learned that his brother Blake had died. Krikorian returned on Aug. 8, just in time for the women’s first preliminary game, against Spain, which they won 11-4.
Krikorian’s brother Jason said their family had been following along: “It’s brought a level of normalcy, to focus on something else,” he told Sports Illustrated earlier this month.
“Seeing the smiles of the players, seeing their camaraderie, it’s a wonderful reminder that there is still so much happiness in this world,” Jason said.
“Would Blake have said, ‘Go win the gold for me?’ No, he would have found that kind of ridiculous. But of course it would be a great story and give Adam, and a lot of other people, a happy ending.”