U.S. National team captain Tony Azevedo recently spoke with Sports Illustrated's Dan Green about his record-setting career as a water polo player. The two discuss family, playing overseas and how Azevedo pictures his playing career ending. Azevedo will become the first U.S. water polo player to play in four consecutive Olympic Games when the team heads to London this July. Actually, Azevedo will tie with center Ryan Bailey for playing in four consecutive Olympic Games.
The article rehashes a lot of Azevedo's career from winning the Peter J. Cutino award four years in a row while playing for the Stanford Cardinal, they talk about his family that excels at water polo and what it is like playing outside the United States.
When talking about the Olympics, Azevedo comes off as confident but very cautious in his words, because in 2008 he mentions that the United States was not even ranked in the top 10 in the world but were able to win the silver medal.
Here is where Azevedo talks about his future in the sport:
I started young and I've always known that I wanted to be a multi-Olympian and play overseas and play the sport until I just don't want to play anymore. But I'm looking more importantly to win a gold at this one and continue on to Rio [in 2016]. I think five is the minimum and I'll see how the body holds up for a sixth. I was born in Rio, so finishing there would be something very special. I'd only be 33 and in water polo there are guys here who are 36, 37. So if I still have love for the sport I'd like to go beyond.
It used to be that once a player hit 30 they were done, but with so many players over 35 it seems realistic that a player of Azevedo 's talent could play in six Olympic Games. With this sport being so tough on the body it would be amazing for him to do that. Odds are that if he gets to a sixth Olympic Games Azevedo likely won't be a starter or the centerpiece of the team, however I am likely to eat those words since he has been on the national team since high school.
Azevedo is then asked about his goals for the upcoming games:
Obviously the goal is to win. I think on this team, we're all sacrificing just playing abroad to stay home this year. I really believe the goal will be to start off the brackets well and just it's one big game to get to that medal round. So we'll just prepare for that and just do what we did in Beijing except finish stronger and hopefully we'll have a gold medal around our necks.
It will be extremely difficult to just win a medal at the London Games, but this squad has been together for years and head coach Terry Schroeder did amazing things in Beijing, so who knows if this team could rise up and win a gold medal.
This Sports Illustrated article is a good read, and for those who are unfamiliar with Azevedo's history that article is a good place to start.