Ashleigh Johnson

Ashleigh Johnson’s Olympic gold medal housed with family’s other sports mementos

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If Ashleigh Johnson wants to see her Olympic gold medal, the No. 1 goalie on the U.S. water polo team can fly to Miami and look at the family trophy case.

“My gold medal is with my mom,” Johnson said on “Distanced Training” with Jac Collinsworth. “Me and my siblings played water polo and swam together our whole lives. All of our participation swim ribbons are in this case, and my gold medal is in this case.”

Johnson is about as accomplished as it gets for a 25-year-old.

After the Rio Olympic title, she took a break from the national team to write her 80-page senior thesis at Princeton, graduating in 2017 with a psychology degree and the distinction of being the school’s career saves leader. She’s plied her trade professionally for club teams in Italy and Greece.

Back in 2016, Johnson became the first black woman to play on a U.S. Olympic water polo team. She was also the only non-Californian on the Rio roster.

Johnson was one of five children raised by a single mom who moved to South Florida from Jamaica. She learned to swim with her siblings in a backyard pool growing up on a five-acre farm property, according to NBC Miami.

So Johnson’s favorite memory from Rio should come as little surprise.

“Getting to see my family celebrate with me in the stands after we won gold,” she said. “It was actually really special for me to be able to look up after every game and before every game and see in them in the stands. … It was really cool for those two worlds to merge at the pinnacle of that season and what we trained towards that whole Olympic cycle.”

The U.S. women won every major title since the Rio Olympics and are massive favorites for Tokyo. The Olympic postponement to 2021 was difficult, knowing a within-reach Olympic repeat bid must wait another year.

“The first thing in my mind [when the Olympics were postponed] was thinking about how close we were, and that’s hard because you know you have this one goal in mind,” she said. “You have this one thing that you’re moving for, this date, that, you’re like, OK, there are a lot of things that can change, everything’s kind of to be decided, but this is the one thing that won’t change. And when it moved, it was a little disappointing. I had to kind of refocus myself, rethink our season and then move forward, but I was definitely jarred.”

MORE: Next water polo world championships get new dates

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U.S. women’s water polo shuts down Spain for third straight world title

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The dominant U.S. women’s water polo team moved another step toward a triple-double of major titles Friday, winning a third straight world championship with an 11-6 win over Spain in a rematch of the 2017 final.

Next year, the team will go for a third straight Olympic gold, having already clinched a berth in the tournament by winning the World League Super Final last month. The Americans will be heavily favored, having won 53 straight games.

After a sloppy start that allowed Spain to forge a 3-3 tie in the second quarter, the U.S. broke things open with a 6- run, including a 4-0 spread in the third quarter.

Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson, an East Coaster on a team full of Californians, was once again nearly unbeatable, stopping nine of 14 shots in the first half to keep Spain from taking the lead. She stopped six shots in the first quarter alone and finished with 14 saves before heading to the bench when the game was safely in hand late in the fourth quarter.

The U.S. took charge in the middle of the game with a balanced attack to compensate for the absence of leading scorer Maddie Musselman, who was out sick. Eight different players — Maggie Steffens, Paige Hauschild, Stephanie Haralabidis, Makenzie Fischer, Melissa Seidemann, Aria Fischer and Kiley Neuschel — scored the first eight U.S. goals.

Neuschul finished with a hat trick, one shy of her four-goal output from the 2017 final, while Steffens added her second.

The U.S. women are the first team to win three straight world titles. Since Adam Krikorian took over in 2009, the team has won four of six world championships, two straight Olympic championships and three straight World Cups.

The gold medal kicked off a banner day for the U.S. at the World Aquatics Championships, with Simone Manuel‘s 100m freestyle win accounting for one of three swimming medals while Caeleb Dressel and Regan Smith set world records in their semifinal races.

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SWIM WORLDS: TV Schedule | Results

Water polo: Back-to-back with authority! USA drills Italy for gold

Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
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Team USA zipped out to an early lead on the way to becoming the first nation to win back-to-back Olympic golds in women’s water polo.

Star goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson made eight saves and the Americans again shared the goals in a 12-5 blowout of Italy in Rio on Friday.

Kiley Neushul led the Americans with three goals.

WATCH: Full match replay

Makenzie Fischer scored nine seconds into the match, and the United States never looked back in building a 4-1 lead after one quarter.

Federica Radicchi scored twice for Italy in a first half that finished 5-3 for the United States.

Rachel Fattal and Neushul scored to open the second half, and the Yanks rebuilt a four-goal lead.

The Americans have medaled in every Olympics, picking up two golds, two silvers, and a bronze.

Russia beat Hungary for bronze earlier Friday.