Kami Craig is going to her third Olympic Games.
The 2008 and ’12 Olympic veteran was one of 13 athletes named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Water Polo Team today, and she’s one of four Olympic veterans on the squad announced at the LA84 Foundation in Los Angeles.
Along with Craig, team captain Maggie Steffens, attacker Courtney Mathewson and defender Melissa Seidemann were part of the 2012 U.S. team that won the gold medal in London. Craig, a center, is the lone holdout from the ’08 Olympic silver-medal team.
Rounding out the Rio squad are nine Olympic rookies. They are goalkeepers Sami Hill and Ashleigh Johnson; defenders KK Clark and Makenzie Fischer; center Aria Fischer; and attackers Rachel Fattal, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Maddie Musselman and Kiley Neushul.
Defender Alys Williams was the lone cut from the 14-player squad the U.S. team brought to China earlier this month for the World Super League Final, where it won for the third year in a row.
Team USA goes into Rio de Janeiro as strong favorites to successfully defend its gold medal, which would make it the first nation to do so in women’s water polo. The top-ranked squad has won every major tournament since 2014, including an unprecedented fourth world championship in 2015, and comes into the Games as the first team to hold all four major titles — Olympic, world championship, World Cup and World League.
The U.S. women also won the Pan American Games gold medal in 2015 while finishing with a 28-1 overall record.
Coach Adam Krikorian introduced the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team following an opening address from LA84 Foundation President & CEO Renata Simril, LA 2024 Vice Chair Janet Evans and USA Water Polo's Chief Operating Officer Marty Samuels.
The U.S. roster for Rio has a strong balance between veterans and youth. Steffens leads a powerful offense that includes fellow Olympic veteran Mathewson as well as rising stars such as Neushul and Fattal. Johnson, the starting goalkeeper, was named Top Goalkeeper and gold-medal game MVP at last year’s world championships.
Craig, 28, and Mathewson, 29, are the most veteran players, while Fischer and Musselman are teenagers — the former 17 and the latter turning 18 today.
The U.S. women open Olympic competition on Aug. 9 against Spain in a rematch — and on the four-year anniversary, no less — of the 2012 Olympic gold-medal game.