Posted: Jul 24, 2012 3:13 PM by Bill Halter
Updated: Aug 1, 2012 9:53 AM
The 2012 London Games will be the fourth Olympics that include women's water polo. The U.S. women have earned two Silvers and one Bronze, but never a Gold medal.
Central Coast native Kami Craig is one of seven returning players from the 2008 team that lost by one point in the Gold Medal match.
The Santa Barbara High graduate was the youngest player on the team in 2008 when she scored 6 goals. Now she is a 25 year old team leader with visions of gold. "We're extremely excited to get over there and have the opportunity to go for the Gold. And I'm really excited for having this opportunity with this team," said Craig during a recent interview with KSBY Sports.
Craig, who was born in San Luis Obispo and grew up in Santa Ynez, is Team USA's most important offensive player, a role she relishes. "I sit in front of the cage and get beat up and I have a big offensive role on this team," she said.
Her coach, Adam Krikorian calls her the best center in the world. He compares her to basketball player Shaquille O'Neal when he was in his prime. "When you have someone that's that imposing on the low post, right in front of the basket, or in our case, right in front of the goal, it draws so much attention. It draws the defense back so far that it frees up the shooters on the outside," said Krikorian, who is in his first Olympics as a head coach.
Craig and the Americans begin their Gold medal quest on Monday against Hungary.
Kami received the Peter J. Cutino Award as the college game's best player in 2009 and 2010, while at USC. She still owns two records at Santa Barbara High for most goals in a single season (123) and most goals in a game (9). She won league titles as a freshman at Santa Ynez Hgigh and as a junior at Santa Barbara High. Kami was part of C.I.F. title teams at SBHS during her junior and senior seasons.
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