USC Water Polo Boasts 16 Trojans In Tokyo Olympics
USC water polo will be well represented at the Tokyo Olympic Games, with six men and a record 10 women set for Olympic action starting this week. USC's women will be representing five different nations, marking the most countries represented as well as the most Trojan women to compete at a Games. USC's six men in Tokyo are the most since 1956, and they will represent three different nations.
"It's great to see that so many of our Trojans made their Olympic teams," USC head coach Marko Pintaric said. "We have supported our athletes who want to pursue their dreams, and we are are really happy and proud of all of them. This is exactly what this USC program stands for — to combine great academics and athletics first and then try to work on helping our athletes to achieve their Olympic dreams."
Fresh off anchoring the USC women to the 2021 NCAA Championship, 2021 National Player of the Year Maud Megens is following in her mother's footsteps as she sets to compete for the Netherlands as a first-time Olympian. She is one of 13 Trojans in Tokyo who have won national championships while at USC. Megens may well end up facing off against several former USC teammates in Tokyo, with Team USA boasting four Trojans, including three of Megens' USC teammates — Stephania Haralabidis, Paige Hauschild and Amanda Longan. Another teammate, Tilly Kearns, is a first-time Olympian for Australia; as is Hayley McKelvey for Canada. That marks six USC women from 2017 to today to earn a place in the Olympics.
The veteran of the women's group is first-time Olympian Joelle Bekhazi, who was the first Canadian player to win an NCAA Championship when she helped USC to the 2010 trophy. She's joined by two-time NCAA champ McKelvey in a long-awaited Olympic appearance for Team Canada.
Meanwhile, three members of the USC women's 2013 NCAA Championship squad are making repeat trips to the Games. Spain's Anni Espar collected a silver in 2012 before coming to Troy and teaming up with Australian Hannah Buckling and USA's Kaleigh Gilchrist. All three Trojans competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, with Gilchrist winning gold with Team USA. That trio is back for more as veterans on their respective Olympic teams.
The two USC women who will return to Troy after Tokyo are Australia's Tilly Kearns and Team USA's Paige Hauschild. Hauschild helped USC to the 2018 NCAA Championship and was teammates with then-freshman Kearns in USC's run to the 2019 MPSF Championship before the two took time off from USC competition to train with their respective national teams.
The men's side also boasts a pair of Trojans who will return to USC after Tokyo. Hannes Daube and Marko Vavic were teammates on USC's 2018 NCAA Championship team and are still paired up as first-time Olympians for Team USA. Vavic's first season at USC had him alongside two other eventual Olympians — 2017 grads and Australian brothers Blake Edwards and Lachlan Edwards. Those two Aussie Trojans are officially teamed up with USC's most successful goalie in history — Joel Dennerley. Dennerley anchored USC to four consecutive NCAA Championships from 2008-11 and will now be making his third trip to the Olympic Games with Australia. Continuing the Trojan teammate connections, Dennerley won his last three NCAA titles with Kostas Genidounias in the water. Genidounias would wrap his USC career as the Trojans' all-time leading scorer along with those three NCAA rings, and he's now a lock for Greece as he makes his second Olympic appearance with the Greek men.
Although they were never teammates at USC, Gilchrist and Megens share the common thread of having a parent who also was an Olympian. Gilchrist's father, Sandy, swam for Canada in 1964 and 1968; Megens' mother, Patricia, was a 2000 Olympian for the Dutch water polo team.
For bios, schedules and more information on USC's record 61 Trojans competing in the Tokyo Olympics, go to https://www.olympics.usctrojans.com.
USC WATER POLO'S 2020 OLYMPIANS
^ — current USC student-athlete
* — first-time Olympian
Australia — Hannah Buckling | Tilly Kearns*^
Canada — Joelle Bekhazi* | Hayley McKelvey*
Netherlands — Maud Megens*
Spain — Anni Espar
USA — Kaleigh Gilchrist | Stephania Haralabidis* | Paige Hauschild *^ | Amanda Longan*
Australia — Joel Dennerley | Blake Edwards* | Lachlan Edwards*
Greece — Kostas Genidounias
USA — Hannes Daube^* | Marko Vavic^*
USC WATER POLO IN TOKYO — BY THE NUMBERS:
USC's 10 women competing in Tokyo is a program record
USC's 6 men competing in Tokyo is the most since 1956
13 have been members of NCAA Championship teams at USC
In all, USC's 2020 Olympians have 20 NCAA Championship rings among them
11 are first-time Olympians
4 are current USC student-athletes
6 different nations will be represented by Trojans
4 were selected National Player of the Year as a Trojan
2 of the five repeat Olympians have already won medals (Espar & Gilchrist)
2 Trojans have parents who are also Olympians (Gilchrist & Megens)