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U.S. retains water polo coaches Adam Krikorian, Dejan Udovicic through Paris Olympics

Coach Adam Krikorian celebrates in the pool with U.S. women's water polo team after winning gold in 2021 in Tokyo.
Coach Adam Krikorian celebrates with the U.S. women’s water polo team after it defeated Spain for the gold medal on Aug. 7, 2021, in Tokyo.
(Gary Ambrose / For The Times)

Adam Krikorian, who has coached the U.S. to an unprecedented three consecutive Olympic gold medals in women’s water polo, will go for a fourth in Paris after USA Water Polo extended his contract through the 2024 Summer Games.

Men’s coach Dejan Udovicic also had his contract extended through Paris. The men finished sixth in Tokyo last summer, equaling their second-best finish in an Olympic tournament in the last 25 years.

“USA Water Polo is excited to announce the return of our two national team head coaches. Stability is important in team building, and keeping the leaders of our programs intact will only help build from the efforts of the last quadrennial,” John Abdou, USA Water Polo’s chief sport performance officer, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Professionally, they are experts and leaders in their field and deeply tied into our game internationally. Personally, they are men of integrity and character who have taught me a great deal and have made themselves available as a resource to coaches and athletes all across the country. The 2½-year road to Paris is well paved with our coaches remaining in place.”

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Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka and other high-profile athletes pushed mental health issues to the forefront of conversations in sports and beyond in 2021.

Krikorian, 47, a former player and coach at UCLA, has built the women’s program into a juggernaut since taking over in 2009. In addition to the three consecutive Olympic titles, the U.S. women have won four FINA World Championships (2009, 2015, 2017, 2019), three FINA World Cups (2010, 2014, 2018), three Pan American Games titles (2011, 2015, 2019) and 11 FINA World League Super Final crowns (2009-2012, 2014-2019, 2021). The team also set the modern-day record for consecutive wins in women’s water polo with 69.

“The opportunity to coach these remarkable women and the honor I feel in helping lead this program forward is not something I take for granted,” Krikorian said in a statement. “With the shortened time frame to Paris 2024 and an eye on Los Angeles 2028, the work ahead will be extensive and undoubtedly stimulating.”

Udovicic, 51, a former Serbian player and coach, will be looking to give the U.S. its first men’s water polo medal since 2008. In eight years in charge, he has taken the team to gold medals at the 2015 and 2019 Pan American Games and silver medals at the 2016 and 2021 FINA World League Super Final.

The next major events for both the men’s and women’s teams are the FINA World Championships, set for May 13-29, 2022, in Fukuoka, Japan.


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