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U.S. women’s water polo team’s first loss since 2018 ends record streak

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The U.S. women’s water polo team suffered its first loss since April 2018, ending a believed-to-be record 69-game win streak on Thursday.

Australia beat the U.S. 10-9 in the second game of a three-game series in Brisbane. Australian captain Rowie Webster netted the game-winner on a penalty shot with 30 seconds left.

The U.S.’ last loss, on April 2, 2018, was also to Australia.

The Americans are 153-5 dating to December 2015, not dropping a game at an Olympics, World Championship, World Cup or a World League Super Final in that span.

Adam Krikorian has been head coach since 2009 with a bevy of talent at his disposal. The most prominent is Maggie Steffens, a member of every title team in the 2010s at the Olympics, worlds, World Cup and World League.

Come Tokyo, the U.S. hopes to become the third nation to win three straight Olympic water polo titles, joining the Hungarian men (2000-08) and British men (1900-20). Women’s water polo debuted at the Olympics in 2000.

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MORE: U.S. water polo among most dominant Olympic teams of 2010s decade

Americans dot dominant Olympic teams of 2010s decade

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NBCSports.com looks back at the 2010s decade this week. Here are six Olympic teams (in team sports) that dominated the last 10 years …

U.S. Men’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014 World titles

The successors to the Redeem Team kept the U.S. Olympic dominance intact in London and Rio, going undefeated under coach Mike KrzyzewskiKevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony have to be the MVPs, going one-two in scoring for the Americans at both Games. Anthony became the first U.S. man to earn three Olympic basketball titles and broke LeBron James‘ career U.S. Olympic points record. The decade ended on a sour note, with the Americans losing in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals in September under new coach Gregg Popovich.

U.S. Women’s Basketball
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2010, 2014, 2018 World titles

Undefeated in FIBA competition in the 2010s, winning every Olympic and World Cup game by double digits and by an average of 32 points per game. Former University of Connecticut stars Sue BirdDiana Taurasi and Tina Charles were part of every major international roster. Their college coach, Geno Auriemma, was at the helm through the Rio Games. Since, Dawn Staley succeeded Auriemma. Another UConn great, Breanna Stewart, took MVP at the 2018 World Cup.

Canada/U.S. Women’s Hockey
Combined to win every Olympic and world title in the 2010s
Two Olympic finals decided in overtime or shootout

Canada had the edge by winning two of the three Olympic titles. The U.S. owned the rivalry at the world championships — winning six of seven titles. These two national teams define women’s hockey, and so they both belong on this list. It began in Vancouver, where 18-year-old Marie-Philip Poulin scored twice, fellow Olympic rookie Shannon Szabados stopped all 21 U.S. shots and the Canadians celebrated on ice with Molsons, cigars and at least one ice-resurfacing machine. In Sochi, the U.S. squandered a one-goal lead with a minute left, with Poulin scoring the equalizer and the overtime winner. Canada nearly completed a perfect Olympic decade in PyeongChang, giving up a third-period lead and falling in a shootout that went to an extra round. The U.S. was led by stalwart forward Hilary Knight, twins Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando and 20-year-old Olympic rookie goalie Maddie Rooney.

Russia Synchronized Swimming
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
Won all 10 world titles in the 2010s in technical/free routines

Russia owns every Olympic gold medal this millennium in synchronized swimming, which is now called artistic swimming. The dynasty draws from Russia’s balletic traditions. If the program was weak in any aspect, it was from a lack of male synchronized swimmers. But not anymore. The mixed-gender duet events aren’t part of the Olympic program yet, but two debuted on the world championships program in 2015. It wasn’t until this past summer that Russia swept those gold medals.

U.S. Women’s Water Polo
2012, 2016 Olympic titles
2015, 2017, 2019 World titles

The Americans are 149-4 dating to 2015, not dropping a game at an Olympics, World Championship, World Cup or a World League Super Final in that span. They’re currently on a 65-game win streak. They have three games left in 2019, looking to finish 37-0 to complete the first perfect calendar year during the current reign of dominance. Adam Krikorian has been head coach for the entire decade with a bevy of talent at his disposal. The most prominent is Maggie Steffens, a member of every title team this decade at the Olympics, worlds, World Cup and World League.

Honorable Mention: Sweden Women’s Curling and Canada Men’s Hockey.

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BEST OF 2010s: Summer Olympians | Winter Olympians | Teams
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U.S. water polo player details South Korea balcony collapse

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One moment, Kaleigh Gilchrist was celebrating an unprecedented third straight world championship for the U.S. women’s water polo team.

In the next moment, she was headed to a hospital in South Korea.

Gilchrist was partying with teammate Paige Hauschild and other competitors from the world championships when a balcony at a nightclub near the athletes’ village collapsed early Saturday morning, killing two people and creating a chaotic scene in the southern city of Gwangju.

“We were having the best night ever celebrating our win, and somehow, a freak accident happened,” Gilchrist told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Gilchrist, a 27-year-old attacker from Newport Beach, Calif., who also was part of the United States’ gold medal-winning team at the Rio Olympics, sustained some deep lacerations on her left leg and got some stitches for cuts on her left thigh. But she said she had no broken bones or nerve damage.

Gilchrist had surgery later Saturday morning. She remained in the hospital Monday while doctors monitored her recovery, but she hoped to return to the U.S. on Tuesday.

She was counting her blessings, too.

“We are the lucky ones and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones,” she said.

Gilchrist, who also has traveled the world as an accomplished surfer, remembers only parts of the harrowing night.

Hours after the Americans’ 11-6 victory over Spain in the final, Gilchrist was on the balcony with Hauschild, U.S. men’s attacker Johnny Hooper and other athletes when it went down.

“It was all pretty quick, I think,” Gilchrist said. “But I remember falling and I talked to Johnny and we kind of thought the same thing: It’s like, we felt like (we were) falling for 10 seconds, which it probably ended up being one or two seconds. But everything kind of slowed down.”

Gilchrist said the railing of the balcony was lined with glued-down beer bottles that shattered when it collapsed. She thinks she was helped up before she made her way out of the nightclub with Hauschild.

When Gilchrist got outside, she realized the extent of her injuries and laid down on the sidewalk. She then got some help from some players on the U.S. men and Australian water polo teams, and Christopher Bates, a trainer for the U.S. men’s team, joined the group.

“Chris was kind of just the biggest blessing,” Gilchrist said. “He came, he’s a trainer, he put his belt around my leg as a tourniquet and he came in the ambulance with me.”

Gilchrist face-timed with her parents, Jenny and Sandy, and sister, Ali, right after she got hurt, and Bates and her U.S. teammates also provided updates. Larnie Boquiren, a trainer for the women’s team, and team doctor Seth Schmoll also helped take care of Gilchrist.

“My mom wanted to fly out, but I said ‘Don’t worry. I’m here with our trainer, Larnie, and Dr. Seth,’” Gilchrist said. “They’ve been so great to me, so I told my mom don’t worry and I’ll be home in no time.

“She still wanted to come, but it’s all good.”

Hauschild, Hooper and U.S. center Ben Hallock also got hurt. Hauschild got stitches on her right arm and Hooper needed stitches for cuts on his left hand. Hallock had some minor scrapes on his legs.

Gilchrist said she should know more about her recovery after she returns to the U.S., but she is hoping to be back in the pool with the team in a few months. The U.S. became the first team to win three straight world water polo titles with the victory in South Korea, and it is a big favorite to win a third consecutive gold at the Olympics next year.

“It’s awesome to be a part of history and I think there’s something special about our team,” Gilchrist told the AP. “It’s just a bummer that an incident like this has to bring headlines to our team and not just the way we play the game and the way we work and grind. I think there’s something to be said of the success and I think a lot of people could learn from us.”

MORE: Most experienced Olympian in history retires at 72

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