Olympics: Anae claims gold medal

Tumua Anae had already achieved her dream. But Thursday, the Corona del Mar High product helped make history, as she and the U.S. women's water polo team defeated Spain, 8-5, at the London Olympic Games to claim the Americans' first Olympic gold medal in the sport.

Anae, a backup goalie, is one of 13 roster players for Team USA, which went 5-0-1 in the tournament. The final victory avenged the only blemish on that record, a 9-9 tie against Spain in group play.

Since women's water polo became an Olympic sport in 2000, the Americans had won silver medals in 2000 and 2008, while capturing bronze in 2004.

Anae told the Daily Pilot in May that she had dreamed of being an Olympian since she was 8. But her initial focus was swimming. She did not play water polo her first two seasons at CdM, renewing a water polo career that began in junior high as a junior for the Sea Kings.

"It's just a dream that you have when you start getting involved in athletics, especially an aquatic sport," Jordan said on May 17, when the USA Olympic team roster was announced. "That's swimming and water polo's biggest stage: the Olympics."

Anae quickly emerged as a star goalie at CdM and went on to play at USC, where she was a three-time All-American and the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Year as a senior in 2010. Anae also helped USC win the 2010 NCAA title.

She holds USC saves records for a career (714) a season (270 in 2010) and a game (20) and is one of only two goalies to earn MPSF Player of the Year recognition.

She joined the national team after graduating as a broadcast journalism major at USC in 2010 and has seen limited action behind decorated starting goalie Betsey Armstrong.

Armstrong, who Anae and others have called the best goalie in the world, had eight saves in the gold-medal final against Spain and was named to the Olympic All-Star team.

At CdM, Anae was named CIF Southern Section Division II Co-Player of the Year as a senior and helped the Sea Kings win section titles in 2005 and 2006. She also swam on CdM's CIF Southern Section Division II championship swim teams in 2004 and 2006, specializing in the breaststroke.

Team USA Coach Adam Krikorian, also the women's coach at UCLA, said Anae earned her roster spot in 2011. Krikorian spoke of intangibles, as much as ability, when addressing Anae's contribution to the team three months prior to Thursday's gold-medal victory.

"She brings a calmness and composure to this team that is so important, especially in big moments and big events like the Olympic Games, when you need to keep your emotions in check," Krikorian said. "One of the greatest things about Tumua is that she's got a great perspective on things. She's extremely competitive and she takes her job very seriously. She clearly wants to be the best that she can be, but she also understands that at the end of the day, it's still only a game. Although she commits a lot to [water polo], the most important thing to her is her family.

Anae, born in Hawaii, played with older sister Jordan at CdM and USC. Jordan is married to Indianapolis Colts defensive end Fili Moala, a former standout at USC entering his fourth NFL season.

In Moala's rookie season wit the Colts, the team lost the Super Bowl to New Orleans in February of 2010.

So, it appears, Tumua Anae might have top family bragging rights.

Team USA, which joins the men's 1904 team as the only American squads to capture Olympic gold, also benefited from the work of assistant coach Dan Klatt, the UC Irvine women's head coach.

Klatt, a former All-American at UCI, played for the U.S. men's team that failed to medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Entering his eighth season as UCI coach, Klatt has been named Big West Conference Coach of the Year the last four years. He has guided the Anteaters to three conference regular-season crowns in the last four years and victories at the first two Big West Tournaments in 2010 and 2011. Those tournament victories produced NCAA Tournament berths.

UCI was 25-8 to set a single-season wins record in 2011, when it was a program-best fourth at the NCAA Tournament.

Klatt, who as a coach does not receive an Olympic medal, was customarily deposited in the pool after Thursday's victory.

— From staff reports

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