2000, 2004, 2008 & 2012 Olympian - United States
@WaterPoloTony - twitter / tonyazevedo8 -instagram
STATUS: Rio 2016 Olympic Hopeful (TEAM HAS QUALIFIED With 2015 Pan Am Games Gold Medal)
OLYMPIC MEDALIST. 5x PAN AM GAMES CHAMPION. COLLEGE GRADUATE.
Tony Azevedo’s journey to the sport of Water Polo is one that has been led by an amazing family tree that has seen 13 men & women play sports at the highest level from the Olympics, Pan Am Games, professional soccer, basketball and be NCAA All Americans in the United States and Latin America.
Tony was born in Rio de Janeiro, but his family moved to Long Beach, CA a month after his birth.
His journey in Water Polo, was led by his father Ricardo, who was a member of the Brazilian national water polo team and has been with his son in a variety of ways throughout his development in the sport as both a coach and a mentor. Ricardo coached Tony throughout his age group and high school career and went on to becoming the US National Team coach (& that of Long Beach St) as well. Truly, a family affair, Tony’s sister Cassie has the sport in her blood as well and was a 3-time All American at Long Beach State and is a professional today in Hungary.
Tony though from an early age, developed into the best US Water Polo player and has had the gift not only to be a great player, but also to be a leader and put his team on his back and just win. From high school to his time at Stanford, he won 4 CIF State Championships and 2 NCAA titles (4 Title Game appearances) as well as becoming the youngest member of the US Olympic Team in 2000 at the age of 18. He set NCAA scoring records during his time at Stanford and each of his years at school, he won the National Player of the Year award, four times and scored an astonishing 332 goals during his time in Palo Alto.
After graduating Stanford with a degree in International Relations, Tony signed a professional water polo contract with Bissolati Cremona (Italy) making him one of the top 10 paid players in the sport. Since then he has moved on as probably the highest paid player in the sport with Jug (Dubrovnik, Croatia). While he is a pro in Europe, he serves as Captain of the US National Team and during the course of the year, takes part in international competitions (similar to what you see in pro soccer, when a player leaves his team to compete for their nation various times during the year).
Additionally, Tony has been a member of the past 3 US Olympic Teams where he has had past individual success such as scoring 13 goals in Sydney (4th in scoring overall) 15 goals in Athens (2nd in scoring overall), but in 2008, the US put together their best collective efforts and won Silver. Team USA had not won a Men’s Water Polo medal (Silver) since the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. On that team in 1988 was current men’s US coach, Terry Schroeder. Terry said about Tony
“He’s hungry to win. He wants to do what it takes to win. And I think that’s been a big part of our success too.”
The last US team to win Gold was in 1904 when rules were different and the US won Gold, Silver and Bronze in the sport.
Tony’s goal was clear for the London 2012 Games and that was to help the United States bring home Gold for the first time in 98 years. The sport has been dominated historically by Eastern Bloc countries who since 1952 have won 12 Gold medals.
During the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, Tony was sidelined for a majority of the event with an injury he sustained in Houston training. He came back in the Gold Medal Game and led the US to victory. During his time on the sidelines he was the biggest cheerleader he could be for Team USA and the athletes for the collective team voted for him to have the honor of carrying the flag at Closing Ceremonies.
Tony was named to his 4th US Olympic Team in June 2012 and competed in London. The United States moved beyond the round robin stage, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals ending their hopes of that elusive Gold medal.
In the Spring of 2013, Tony & other international athletes created a player organization called www.WaterPoloPlayers.org. The WPO is a non-profit independent international association encompassing current athletes, former players and amateurs in the sport from around the world. The WPO was conceived by a small group of athletes and other key figures that are currently working together as founders of the association, with a mission to increase the solidarity of water polo players around the globe.
Today, Tony and the family lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil where he plays for SESI. Tony is in training to make his 5th US Olympic Team which would be a record in the sport in the United States and knows that this Games is located in his birthplace and ancestry home of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Tony splits time in Sao Paulo and the Los Angeles area. He and the family will move back to Southern California, full time, in the Fall of 2015.
Personally, Tony got married to his long time girlfriend, fellow Stanford Alum, Sara in January 2010. Tony and Sara had their first child in May of 2013, Cruz Antonio Azevedo in Croatia where Tony was playing pro water polo for Jug in Dubrovnik at the time. They split time between the United States, Europe, Brazil and Mexico throughout the year. Tony has supported the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the USOC's Team for Tomorrow program where he lends time to school or community development (such as YMCA) visits.
Tony has been an Athlete Ambassador for 24 Hour Fitness, Ralph Lauren, Anheuser-Busch and is a currently working with Mikasa, Zico Coconut Water and Hard Core Polo & Swim (a high performance swimwear brand based in Southern California that produces all of its swimsuits in the United States).
In April of 2015, Tony was inducted into the New York Athletic Club Hall of Fame.