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Azevedo returning to Rio as 5-time water polo Olympian

 

Stanford grad Tony Azevedo is the consummate team player but it has to be special knowing he's going to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the city of his birth.

Azevedo will be participating in his fifth Olympic Games, alongside Cardinal grads and first-timers Bret Bonanni and Alex Bowen.


Tony Azevedo. Photo by Kelley L Cox-KLC fotos
Incoming Stanford freshman Ben Hallack, also on the Olympic team, had yet to celebrate his first birthday when Azevedo was the high scorer at the Pan American Junior Water Polo Championships in 1998.

Azevedo had just turned 16 the day before Hallack was born.

"Pretty special day going to my 5th and now the Stanford Hall of fame! A day to remember," Azevedo tweeted.

The U.S. Olympic men's water polo team was officially announced by coach Dejan Udovicic on Thursday.

The team was introduced for the first time in a press conference held on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.

Azevedo is one of four returning Olympians. With this selection, Azevedo becomes the first five-time Olympian in in the 116-year history of USA water polo.

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. opens play in Rio on Aug. 6 against defending Olympic champion, Croatia. The Americans will also 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 Olympics 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.

Bowen scored four goals in the 2015 FINA World Championships and added eight goals in Team USA's gold-medal finish at the 2015 Pan American Games. He also led Team USA to third-place finish with 14 goals in the 2015 FINA Intercontinental tournament.

Bonanni, who broke Azevedo's career scoring record at Stanford, recorded 12 goals at last year's FINA World Championships and led Team USA with 18 goals at the Pan American Games.

— USA Water Polo

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