Stand ends, but medal rewarding
BEIJING - When their surprising Olympic run finally ended yesterday, the US men's water polo players wore mostly frowns on their weary faces and silver medals around their necks.
Right after their 14-10 loss to Hungary in the final, they presented a picture of conflicting emotions - equal parts sadness and satisfaction. The coach who had put this fractured American program back together, Terry Schroeder, gathered his charges in one last huddle to make sure their accomplishment had not been lost in defeat.
"It's going to hurt tonight and hurt tomorrow, but as the months go on, they're going to realize what a huge deal this is," Schroeder said. "They've got a lot to be proud of."
The US won both water polo silver medals here. The women's team, ranked No. 1 entering the tournament, ended up disappointed. The men's team, ranked No. 9 at the same juncture, will remember this two-week stretch as the period during which they reemerged, reaching the medal stand for the first time since 1988. "It will be a tournament that people remember for the ages," goalie Merrill Moses said. "USA water polo hasn't been on the podium in 20 years. We wanted the gold, but I'm happy I have a medal around my neck."
The US tied the score, 9-9, early in the third quarter, though Hungary dominated the rest of the way to win its third straight Olympic gold medal.
"It's amazing that we got here," attacker Adam Wright said. "We've been through a whole lot the last four years, an unbelievable amount of adversity."