The most dominant U.S. athletes in Rio? Women's water polo

Fri Aug 19, 2016 8:24pm EDT
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By Joshua Schneyer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The U.S. women's gymnastics team got far more of the limelight, and household names like swimmer Michael Phelps got immeasurably more TV coverage.

But no U.S. 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 U.S. steamrolled Italy, an experienced team that had gone undefeated in Rio until meeting the United States in the final.

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

U.S. 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.

Following his team's loss a stunned Italian coach, Fabio Conti, summed up the U.S. team's abilities this way: "They are from out of this universe."

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.   Continued...

2016 Rio Olympics - Water Polo - Final - Women's Gold Medal Match USA v Italy - Olympic Aquatics Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 19/08/2016. Madeline Musselman (USA) of USA competes. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes