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  Rio 2016: Swimming under the radar

Rio 2016: Swimming under the radar

REUTERS
Published : Aug 21, 2016, 12:21 am IST
Updated : Aug 21, 2016, 12:21 am IST

The US women's gymnastics team got far more of the limelight, and household names like swimmer Michael Phelps got immeasurably more TV coverage.

The US women's gymnastics team got far more of the limelight, and household names like swimmer Michael Phelps got immeasurably more TV coverage.

But no US Olympic team, or individual athlete, outmatched competitors as resoundingly as a women's water polo squad that won the gold medal on Friday. By a score of 12-5, the US steamrolled Italy, an experienced team that had gone undefeated in Rio until meeting the United States in the final.

With the victory, US women's water polo claimed their second straight Olympic gold, becoming the first ever to repeat the feat.

American men and women have won gold medals in nine different sports so far during the Rio Games, but in no other sport has their performance been so dominating.

Water polo is a rough-and-tumble game where, during 32 minutes of sprinting, grappling, shooting and gasping for air, athletes never touch the bottom of the pool.

Much of the highly physical action takes place beneath the pool surface, a reason why the game does not typically lure millions of prime-time viewers.

The leader of the U.S. crew is Adam Krikorian, who also led the American women's team to victory in London in 2012. To prevail here, the tight-knit team had to play through tragedy. Krikorian, 42, was told on Aug. 3, just before the Games began, that his older brother Blake had died suddenly of a heart attack in California.

Krikorian left to be with family, but rejoined the team a few days later.

Following the U.S. victory, the players hung their medals around Krikorian's neck. The coach fought back tears as he spoke to the press.

Location: Brazil, Rio de Janeiro