USC Water Polo Sends Nine Trojans To Rio For 2016 Olympic Games

    July 26, 2016

    USC’s storied water polo program will be well represented once again in Olympic waters. In all, there are nine former or current Trojans locked in with tickets to Rio de Janeiro as members of their respective national teams. On the women’s side, USC will have five Women of Troy in the mix, competing for four different countries — USA, Australia, Spain and Brazil. On the men’s side, there will be four more Trojans earning Olympic status, in competition for three different nations — USA, Australia and Greece. In all, six of those USC products will be making their first-ever Olympic appearances, with three players also lined up on current USC rosters. Altogether, the group has collected 12 NCAA Championships during their time as Trojans.

    Between the USC men's and women's water polo programs, there have been Trojans in 14 Olympic Games dating back to 1928. USC has been represented 38 times on the men's side and 24 times on the women's side. As a whole, Trojan men and women have accumulated 15 Olympic medals (six gold, eight silver, one bronze) on the way into these 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. To learn more about USC's 2016 water polo Olympians, see below.

    Kami Craig - USA Women (3-time Olympian | 2010 NCAA Champion)
    Team USA’s Kami Craig is making her third trip to the Olympic Games, looking to add to a medal count that already includes silver in 2008 and gold in 2012. One of the top centers in the women’s game, Craig’s international career began in 2004 as a member of the U.S. Junior National Team that won gold at that year’s Junior Pan American Championships. Since then, Craig’s resume has expanded to an incredible list of achievements, highlighted by three FINA World Championships (2007, 2009, 2015) and two FINA World Cup crowns (2010, 2014). Her collegiate career is similarly impressive. A two-time Peter J. Cutino Award winner (2009 & 2010), Craig also was the 2010 National Player of the Year after helping lead the Women of Troy to the 2010 NCAA Championship. Craig would collect four All-American honors while taking a season off to train and compete at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. In her four years of work as a Trojan, Craig compiled 152 career goals to currently stand as USC’s No. 10 all-time career scorer.

    Kaleigh Gilchrist - USA Women (1st-time Olympian | 2013 NCAA Champion)
    Kaleigh Gilchrist is a first-time Olympian, having locked in on a trip to Rio as a member of the USA’s 2016 Olympic Team. Gilchrist’s storybook journey has carried her through a 2013 NCAA Championship as a junior at USC, continued competition on the international pro surfing circuit, a gold medal at the 2014 FINA World Championships with USA Water Polo and now to a dream ticket to the 2016 Games as an Olympian. Gilchrist’s performance and growth while at USC saw her emerge as one of the nation’s top players. She’d lock in on her first All-American honors as a sophomore in 2012, when she broke out as the team’s top scorer. She would go on to collect two more such accolades and rank No. 11 all-time career scoring at USC before graduating in 2014. Soon after, Gilchrist was called up for her first-ever duty on the U.S. National Team, helping Team USA win the 2014 FINA Super Final and FINA World Cup titles. The next year, she’d stake a claim on gold at the 2015 FINA World Championships before keeping that momentum rolling in helping secure the United States Olympic qualification in 2016.

    Hannah Buckling - Australia Women (1st-time Olympian | 2013 NCAA Champion)
    In her single season served at USC, Australian standout Hannah Buckling certainly made her mark. Buckling was instrumental in USC’s run to the 2013 NCAA Championship, earning status as the 2013 MPSF Tournament MVP and going on to garner All-American honors after punching up 40 goals for the Trojans that season. Upon her return to Australia, Buckling rejoined her National Team and has stood out as a driving force for the Aussies’ success. Buckling provided five goals for Australia in its fourth-place finish at the 2010 FINA World Championships, following up silver medal that she won in the 2013 event. Buckling was the 2012 Australian Junior Female Water Polo Player of the Year, and has stayed on that powerful path in her time with the Stingers. Buckling and her Australia squad most recently captured bronze at the 2016 FINA Super Final, which Buckling scoring twice for the Aussies in the bronze-medal match.

    * Victória Chamorro - Brazil Women (1st-time Olympian | 2016 NCAA Champion)
    Already an All-American at USC after just having completed her sophomore season as a Trojan, Brazilian Victoria Chamorro is lined up to live out her dreams — playing in the Olympic Games in her home town. A goalie for Brazil’s women’s national team, the Rio de Janeiro native came to USC as a freshman and earned All-American status in 2015 while setting a USC freshman goalie record with 207 saves collected that year. In her sophomore season, Chamorro and her fellow Women of Troy completed a perfect season, going undefeated en route to winning the 2016 NCAA Championship. As a member of the Brazilian National Team, Chamorro recently competed at the 2016 FINA Super Final. Other major international tournaments on her resume include the 2013 FINA World Championships and 2014 FINA Super Final. After this upcoming Olympic outing, Chamorro will return to USC for her junior season with the Trojans.

    Anni Espar - Spain Women (2-time Olympian | 2013 NCAA Champion)
    Anni Espar is bound for her second Olympic Games with her history-making Spanish national team. In 2012, Espar was the second leading scorer overall at the Games in London, where Spain made its Olympic debut and went on to win a silver medal. Immediately following that run, Espar came to USC as a true freshman, and helped guide the Women of Troy to the 2013 NCAA Championship. A first-team All-American that year, Espar was responsible for serving up the game-winning goal in the NCAA final, scoring from distance in a sudden-death victory over Stanford. Espar would return to Spain after that season, engaging in a professional career that has seen her take CN Sabadell to two European Championships while continuing to anchor her Spanish national team. Most recently, Espar and the Spaniards took silver at the 2016 FINA Super Finals after having secured their 2016 Olympic bid with their performance at the FINA Olympic Qualification Tournament. Espar also was named European Women’s Water Polo Player of the Year in 2012, and helped Spain win gold at the 2013 FINA World Championships.

    * McQuin Baron - USA Men (1st-time Olympian)
    On the way into his junior campaign with the Trojans, McQuin Baron will first report for duty as a 2016 Olympian with Team USA. The first-time Olympian will check in as one of the United States’ two goalies on the Olympic roster for Rio. In just two seasons of work as a Trojan, Baron stands as USC’s No. 7 all-time goalie with 570 career saves to date. He already holds the top-two totals for single-season saves, having pinned up a record 288 as a freshman and 282 as a sophomore while collecting All-American honors both seasons. At the international level, Baron’s first call-up was for the 2013 FINA World Cup qualifying tournament. He’d then go on to compete for Team USA at several major international competitions, including the 2014 World Cup, 2015 FINA Super Final and the 2015 Pan American Games — where the United States secured its Olympic qualification. Baron has also capped up most recently at the 2015 FINA World Championships and the 2016 FINA Super Final. Baron took the spring semester off from USC in order to train for the Olympic Games with Team USA, and will return to Troy for the 2016 fall semester to rejoin the Trojans.

    Thomas Dustan - USA Men (1st-time Olympian)
    Left-hander Thomas Dunstan will take a trip to Rio de Janeiro before clocking in for his freshman season at USC. The incoming Trojan got the call-up to Team USA to make his first Olympic appearance this summer. Originally from Connecticut, Dunstan attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif,. where he was an All-CIF First Team selection. His first work with the U.S. National Team came at age 16, and he has been training with the squad ever since. Most recently, he competed for the USA at the 2016 World League Super Final in China.

    Joel Dennerley - Australia Men (2-time Olympian | 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 NCAA Champion)
    USC’s all-time career saves leader, goalie Joel Dennerley, is all set to cap up for his second Olympic Games as one of two Trojan goalies on the Australian Olympic Team for 2016. Dennerley anchored the Trojans to four straight NCAA Championships during his time at Troy, winning titles from 2008-2011 while finishing up as a four-time All-American. He also was the 2011 National Player of the Year and 2011 Peter J. Cutino Award winner for his dominant role in helping USC to a historic run of national championships. The Aussie jumped right from his time at Troy into a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team for Australia in London, and he’s remained a mainstay in the cage for the Sharks.

    Kostas Genidounias - Greece Men (1st-time Olympian | 2011, 2012, 2013 NCAA Champion)

    Kostas Genidounias helped his Greek national team qualify for the 2016 Olympic almost a year ago with their bronze-medal finish at the 2015 FINA World Championships. That international accomplishment came following the close of an incredible collegiate career for Genidounias, who won the 2014-15 Peter J. Cutino Award and collected three straight NCAA Championships as a Trojan. The MVP of the 2010 European Youth Championships, Genidounias booked himself a ticket to Troy soon after to start his storybook journey at USC. A four-time All-American, 2014 National and MPSF Player of the Year and member of USC’s 2011, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Championship teams, Genidounias finished as the Trojans’ all-time leading scorer, having broken the USC record with his 261 goals as a Trojan. Barely two years later, Genidounias is now set up with Olympian status, having secured a roster spot on the 2016 Greece Olympic Team bound for Rio de Janeiro.



    * — current USC student-athlete