Men's Water Polo

Rio 2016 venue: Maria Lenk Aquatics Center; Olympic Aquatics Stadium (Maracanã Zone)
Competition dates: Aug. 6-20
Medal events: 1 (men's team)
Olympic introduction: 1900 (Paris, France)

The U.S. men's water polo team is a group on the rise. Building momentum after qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in 2015, the U.S. earned signature victories over perennial powers Serbia, Hungary and Italy in 2015. The U.S. punched it ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by advancing to the gold-medal game at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, where it defeated Brazil, 11-9, for the gold medal. The team stepped up its game in 2016 taking silver at the 2016 FINA World League Super Final. The performance marked the U.S. men’s first medal at a major FINA competition since winning silver at the 2008 Olympic Games.

U.S. captain Tony Azevedo returns for his fifth Olympic Games and is joined by fellow veterans at key positions. Center John Mann controls the space in front of the goal with fellow Olympians Merrill Moses and Jesse Smith anchoring the defense.

Woven into the fabric of Team USA are some of the top collegiate players from recent years. Stanford University products Bret Bonanni and Alex Bowen along with University of California, Berkeley standout Luca Cupido fill big voids on both offense and defense. Additionally, Alex Roelse and Josh Samuels – who both competed for University of California, Los Angeles – add size and athleticism to the U.S. squad, which will be taking on the world's best in Rio.  

The team also adds youth as two recent high school graduates make their first Olympic appearances. Rivals on the southern California scholastic scene, left-handed attacker Thomas Dunstan and center Ben Hallock go from high school graduation to Rio. Dunstan, formerly of New Canaan, Connecticut, helped Mater Dei prep defeat Hallock's Harvard-Westlake squad for the CIF-SS Division I title, considered the highest level of high school water polo in America.

Much like the lead up to the 2008 Olympic Games, the U.S. men's water polo team will arrive in Rio with a plan to shock the world and with just the right amount of talent on both the roster and coaching staff to pull it off.

Athletes To Watch
Tony Azevedo
Azevedo is a name synonymous with U.S. men's water polo over the last 15 years. A native of Rio de Janeiro, Azevedo returns to his birthplace for a USA Water Polo record fifth Olympic Games, bringing a multitude of skills, including leadership scoring, defense and the desire to return to the podium. On a dedicated mission to increase the popularity and awareness of water polo, Azevedo runs camps and clinics from Brazil to North America, and recently helped launched the Water Polo Players Organization aimed at improving treatment for professional water polo athletes.

Luca Cupido 
If Tony Azevedo is the present standard in offensive excellence for Team USA, Cupido might be the future. Part of a group of up-and-coming attackers for Team USA, Cupido originally played with the Italian National Team before moving to the United States. His mother was born in San Francisco but prior to arriving in Newport Beach, California, for his senior year of high school, Cupido lived in Italy. He now plays for the University of California, Berkeley and has a dangerous outside shot.

John Mann 
After nearly missing Olympic and world championship teams in the past, Mann refused to give up on his Olympic dreams. The returner from the London 2012 Games has transformed into an impact player at center, sought after by many of the top clubs in Europe. An NCAA champion and Cutino Award winner as the college game's top player, Mann brings a reserved demeanor to one of the most ferocious areas in sports.

Merrill Moses  
One of the oldest water polo players in Rio will be in goal for Team USA as Moses returns for his third Olympic Games at age 39. Now an assistant coach with his alma mater Pepperdine University, the loquacious netminder brings stability and a tremendous of confidence between the posts. Forever intent on "shocking the world," Moses has the ability to play big in big games and has been a key factor in some of Team USA’s biggest victories over the last 10 years. Now married and a father of two, Moses looks to finish his Olympic career back on the podium.

Alex Obert   
Obert has become a major player in front of the goal for Team USA after emerging off the radar a few years ago. A native of Sacramento, California, Obert spent time at junior college before arriving at the University of the Pacific as the program began to assert itself as one of the best in the nation.


  • After leading the Serbian men’s national team to a world championship title in 2009 and the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Dejan Udovicic took over as head coach for Team USA in 2013. He has assembled a balanced team with key veterans and a host of rising young talent in the lead up to the Rio Games.
  • Tony Azevedo will compete at a USA Water Polo record fifth Olympic Games in 2016. Making it extra special, the 2016 Games will serve as a homecoming for Azevedo, who was born in Rio de Janeiro. In the last year, he has played professionally in Brazil while helping to grow the sport.
  • The current Team USA roster is stacked with youthful talent from the collegiate and high school level. Highlighting the lineup are Stanford University graduates Bret Bonanni and Alex Bowen, Alex Obert from the University of the Pacific, and recent high school graduates, Thomas Dunstan and Ben Hallock.
  • Alex Roelse and Luca Cupido are playing for their second country with Team USA. Roelse, a physical defender, previously spent time with the Netherlands National Team, while Cupido was a standout in the Italian National Team pipeline. Both have used family connections to the United States to join Team USA and each currently compete at American universities with Roelse competing for University of California, Los Angeles and Cupido for University of California, Berkeley.

Women's Water Polo

Rio 2016 venue: Maria Lenk Aquatics Center; Olympic Aquatics Stadium (Maracanã Zone)
Competition dates: Aug. 6-20
Medal events: 1 (women's team)
Olympic introduction: 2000 (Sydney, Australia)

Sports fans will be hard-pressed to find a more dominant national team in the United States than the U.S. women's water polo team. The U.S. women have won every championship available and completed the sport's 'grand slam' after winning an unprecedented fourth FINA World Championship in 2015. The team completed the season with a 28-1 overall record, including a win at the FINA World League Super Final in Shanghai. They added to their haul this year with their record 10th FINA World League Super Final gold medal this past June in China. Add to that a gold medal at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in March, where the team punched their ticket to Rio, and the squad is firing on all cylinders. They remain the only nation in women’s water polo team to hold all four major titles simultaneously – Olympic, world championship, world cup and World League.

For good measure, head coach Adam Krikorian and company added a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. Buoyed by a mixture of veteran leadership from 2012, recent stars of the women's college game and a handful of teenagers, Team USA will be a favorite to repeat its gold-medal run at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. 

The U.S. team is strong in all facets. Captain Maggie Steffens pilots a group on offense that boasts devastating outside shooters, including Kiley Neushul, Rachel Fattal and 2012 gold medalist Courtney Mathewson. The center play is anchored by two-time Olympic medalist Kami Craig, while the defense starts with Olympic champion Melissa Seidemann and ends in goal with Ashleigh Johnson. Teenagers and sisters, Makenzie and Aria Fischer, along with fellow teen Maddie Musselman bring added depth on defense and offense, making Team USA one of the most dominant programs in the world.

Athletes To Watch
Kami Craig
The lone holdover from the silver-medal-winning 2008 U.S. Olympic Team, Craig has matured from the young up-and-comer to an established leader. A physical presence few can handle in front of the goal, she continues to be a vital cog in the U.S. offense, scoring goals and setting up opportunities for others.

Rachel Fattal 
Sometimes overlooked among a wealth of talented attackers, Fattal made her name known in the summer of 2015. The 2015 FINA World Championship MVP powered Team USA to the gold medal with multiple goals. A longtime volleyball player in high school, she eventually transitioned to water polo full time. The California, native is also helping keep University of California, Los Angeles among the top-teams in women's collegiate water polo.

Ashleigh Johnson
Johnson's profile has been rising as her play has reached a new level in recent months. The Florida native by way of Princeton University earned MVP honors for the FINA World Championship gold medal final in 2015 and was tabbed as Swimming World's top female water polo player in 2014. Bringing a diverse background to the sport of water polo, the athletic Johnson brings an exciting new dimension to both the goal and the sport in general.

Kiley Neushul 
One of the most talented water polo players on Team USA's roster, Neushul has been living up to the hype for a long time. A water polo prodigy regularly competing and winning against seasoned veterans at age 14, Neushul is from a water polo family. Her parents both played water polo; her mother, Cathy, is a longtime coach and her siblings, Jamie and Ryann, are also heavily involved in the game. She recently completed her career at Stanford University, where she won three NCAA titles and was twice named a Cutino Award winner as the college game's top player. Neushul now lives with her grandparents in Southern California while training for the Olympic Games.

Maggie Steffens
In the last four years, 2012 Olympic Games MVP and gold medalist Steffens has been twice named FINA World Player of the Year. She excels in every part of the game and has been a natural leader on the team since age 16. Hailing from a family of water polo players, she was joined on the 2012 team by her sister, Jessica, who has since retired. A recent finalist for the AAU Sullivan Award, she also helped Stanford University to two NCAA championship titles.


  • Having medaled at every Olympic Games since women’s water polo made its debut in 2000, the U.S. women’s team finally broke through to win the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. The reigning champions in all major water polo events, Team USA completed the "grand slam" of water polo in August 2015, when it won the FINA World Championship. The U.S. women now hold that title along with the Olympic Games, FINA World Cup, and FINA World League Super Final.
  • Head coach Adam Krikorian will return for a run at the 2016 Games with London 2012 MVP Maggie Steffens, outside sharpshooter Courtney Mathewson, 2015 FINA World Championship MVP Rachel Fattal, versatile threat Kiley Neushul, dominant center Kami Craig and rising talent Ashleigh Johnson in net.
  • Betsey Armstrong, who manned the goal for Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, announced her retirement in July 2014. Looking to fill the void is University of California, Los Angeles starter Sami Hill and Princeton University starter Ashleigh Johnson. In what is considered a predominantly Caucasian sport with strong roots in California, Johnson, an African-American and Florida native – comes from off the radar, bringing amazing athleticism and diversity to the game.
  • Kaleigh Gilchrist was a surfing champion at both the high school and collegiate level before putting her big-wave dreams on hold to pursue Olympic gold in water polo. Gilchrist, who still surfs every chance she gets and chronicles it on Instagram, plans to resume surfing following the 2016 Olympic Games.
  • Rising talents Makenzie Fischer, Aria Fischer, and Maddie Musselman all have something in common: their dads played sports at a high level. For the Fischer sisters, father Erich was a standout at Stanford University before representing Team USA at the 1992 Olympic Games. Musselman’s father, also named Eric, was a Major League Baseball pitcher spending time with the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets.