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Tony Azevedo is a water polo player competing at the 2012 London Summer Olympics for the USA.

Tony Azevedo and the U.S. men's water polo team were not expected to win a medal at the Beijing Olympics, but they ended up advancing to the gold-medal match and finished second after losing to Hungary. But if you ask Azevedo, the "victory" of earning a silver medal was not a victory at all. "The hardest thing about winning the silver medal in Beijing is the fact that we just lost that gold medal," he said. "The hardest thing about the silver is you lose the silver. You win the bronze and you win the gold, but you lose that silver."

When Azevedo traveled to Europe later in 2008 to play for a club team, he left his silver medal with his mother for safekeeping. She hid it somewhere in the house but then forgot where she put it. It was missing for two months before Azevedo's dad found it in a shoebox in a closet. The medal is now in a safety deposit box. "I was freaking out," Azevedo said.

Azevedo is considered one of the best water polo players in the world. He has been a member of Team USA since he was selected as an 18-year-old to play for the 2000 U.S. Olympic team for Sydney. He went on to a spectacular collegiate career at Stanford University (2001-04), where he became the first water polo player to win the Peter J. Cutino award as NCAA player of the year four times. He led Stanford to two NCAA championships (2001, 2002) and is the school's all-time leading scorer with 252 goals.

Azevedo was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His father, Ricardo (Rick), was a member of Brazil's national water polo team for six years (1974-80) before moving his young family to Long Beach, Calif., in 1982. He coached Tony from his early years through high school, was assistant coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 2004 and served as U.S. head coach from December 2005 until June 2007. His sister, Cassie, was a four-year All-American at Cal State Long Beach and currently plays professionally in Italy. His mother, Libby, is very involved in her children's sport as well, working for the men's national team for several years. Four other family members have competed in the Olympics: aunts Piedade (volleyball, 1932), Maria (volleyball, 1936) and Lucy (basketball, 1952) and uncle Carlos (swimming, 1972) all represented Brazil.

At the 2007 Pan Am Games, held in the Azevedo's hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil played the U.S. in the gold-medal match. Tony confided that his father was hoping for an American victory. "He coached us to where we are today. He was 100 percent cheering for us." Rick replied, "I couldn't root against Tony. As a parent, you're always proud, no matter what happens. But there was something extra to this, to watch him come full circle." Tony scored four goals in the 9-2 U.S. win.

Many people believe that Azevedo will be at his fourth Olympic Games in London. Such is not the case. Besides competing at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games as a member of the U.S. Olympic team, Tony was poolside at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. While his father was serving as assistant coach of the U.S. team, 14-year-old Tony helped out by shagging errant balls and pitching them back in the pool. Once, he hit an unsuspecting Alberto Angelini of Italy in the head with a ball and received a return bullet by the playful Italian, smack in the back. Watching the Spanish team's elation at winning the gold medal later in the tournament was enough to set Azevedo on the path toward Olympic glory.

Azevedo has distinguished himself as the go-to scorer for the U.S. At the 2007 World Championships, he was the tournament's leading scorer with 19 goals. He burst out with six-goal performances in wins against South Africa and Canada. He also led the team in goals at several tournaments, including the 2007 Pan Am Games (15), 2005 FINA World League (18) and the 2005 World Championships (13) and 2004 Olympic Games (15). Since the Americans' silver-medal finish in Beijing, Azevedo continued his run with dominating performances at, among other tournaments, the 2009 (12 goals) and 2011 (11) Worlds.

Being the best player in the United States, Tony has attracted offers from some of the best professional clubs in the world. Following his collegiate career, Azevedo signed with Latteria Sorensia (Italy) and led them in scoring in the 2005-06 season. He moved to Bissolati (Italy) where he played until January 2008, when he signed with Jug (Croatia). He played for V.K. Primorac Kotor (Montenegro) in 2009.

In 2002, Tony Azevedo and several of his Cardinal teammates appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, as part of the "America's Best Sports Colleges" issue. In 2003, Azevedo's status reached legendary proportions, as a Men's Journal ranking of the top 20 greatest athletes in the world put him No. 7, ahead of such superstars as Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods. The magazine motivated its decision by claiming that Azevedo could "carry three opponents on his back and still score with his free hand." Azevedo calls his sport "wrestling in water."

Azevedo and his wife Sara have two dogs, Oly and Apollo, and a cat named Snow-Snow. Apollo is a 250-pound Great Dane-Bull Mastiff mix. The Azevedo's have to keep items off tables because Apollo's three-foot-long tail will knock them off. "It's bruised old ladies in the house," Azevedo said of the tail.

At age 5, Azevedo nearly died after a backyard accident. He badly damaged his esophagus when he fell on his throat climbing a metal fence, and he had to be revived on the operating table twice after being airlifted to a Long Beach hospital. Within three years he was playing baseball, basketball, football and volleyball. He focused on water polo once he got to high school.


How tall is Tony Azevedo? How old is Tony Azevedo? Where does Tony Azevedo live? Find out here.

Age: 34 years old
Birthday: November 21, 1981
Height: 6' 1"
Weight: 198 lbs.
Birthplace: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Hometown: Long Beach, CA
Current Residence: Thousand Oaks, CA

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