(Photo courtesy of USA Water Polo.)
The U.S. national water polo team became the only athletes ever to defend a World Championship title for the third time. They beat Spain in a dominant performance (11-6) in the gold medal game, cementing them as the top athletes in the sport. The team has now won 53 games in a row, but this one is extra special. The win qualifies the USA women for the Tokyo Olympics, where the team hopes to defend their gold medal – for the third consecutive time.
After the historic win, the women got a scare that brought home their appreciativeness for their team. The athletes were enjoying a night out after their win when the floor of the club they were dancing at fell away. Two South Koreans were killed and four of the American athletes were injured. None of the injuries were serious, although one athlete had surgery for a deep cut on her leg.
The team’s dominance has been compared to the USA women’s soccer team, which their coach, Adam Krikorian, says the players don’t take lightly.
“We take great pride; we want to show people what we can do as a team, as a program, as a collective staff,” he told CNN. “And we feel like we’re spokespeople also for the sport of water polo.”
Krikorian is now in his tenth year coaching the women.
The U.S. women have competed in the Olympics every year since the sport’s introduction in 2000, and have medalled in all of the previous Olympics. The team brought their best players to the World Championships – nine of the 15 players were members of the 2016 Olympic team.