Tony Azevedo’s rise in water polo was preceded by an impressive family tree that has seen 13 men and women play sports at the highest level, including professional soccer, basketball, baseball and participation in numerous Pan American and Olympic competitions.
Tony was born in Rio de Janeiro, but his family moved to Long Beach, CA a month after his birth. When he was four, he suffered a near death experience after a fall that severed his trachea and esophagus. Although his heart stopped beating on the operating table for several minutes, doctors were eventually able to revive him. His parents Ricardo and Libby were told he would never be able to play sports due to his sustained injuries at such an early age.
Tony’s father Ricardo, who was a member of the Brazilian National Water Polo team, has led Tony as both a coach and a mentor throughout his development in the sport. Ricardo coached Tony during his age group and high school career and went on to become the Long Beach State Coach and eventually the US National Team coach. He is currently the coach of the Chinese National Team.
Tony quickly developed into a great player and a strong leader. During high school and his time at Stanford University, he won 4 CIF State Championships and 2 NCAA titles (4 Title Game appearances) and became the youngest member of the US Olympic Team in 2000 at the age of 18. At Stanford he set NCAA scoring records with an astonishing 332 goals (the past leader had 235) and was the first player to win the prestigious Peter Cutino Award four years in a row.
After graduating from Stanford with a degree in International Relations, Tony signed a professional water polo contract with Bissolati Cremona, ITALY (2005-2007), followed by a stint at JUG Dubrovnik, CROATIA (2008), then with Primorac Kotor, MONTENEGRO (2009-2011), and finally a three month stay in his native Brazil in late 2011 playing for Fluminense/BNY Mellon. He currently has rejoined JUG Dubrovnik for the 2012- 2013 season and lives in Croatia.
While he is a pro, he also serves as Captain of the US National Team and competes in international competitions throughout the year. (This is similar to what you see in pro soccer– when a player leaves his team to compete for his home country various times during the year).
Additionally, Tony has been a member of the past 4 US Olympic Teams, scoring 13 goals in Sydney (4th in scoring overall), 15 goals in Athens (2nd in scoring overall), 10 in London, and bringing home the Silver Medal from Beijing in 2008. Team USA had not won a Men’s water polo medal since the Silver in the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul.
Tony’s current goal is to lead his team to a Gold Medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Water polo has historically been dominated by Eastern Bloc countries that have won 12 Gold Medals since 1952.