Waterpoloworld is proud to announce that three players already sure of participation in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro will be blogging their experiences towards the biggest tournament of their year, if not career. Team USA captain Tony Azevedo, Serbia goalkeeper Branislav Mitrovic and Brazil’s Felipe Perrone, each once a month starting in October, will take the reader into their journey towards Rio. Three different but each on its own very interesting perspectives. And you will learn what their 2016 season building up the 2016 Olympics looks like.
Tony Azevedo, captain of the USA men’s team but born in Rio de Janeiro, is going for his incredible 5th consecutive Olympic games in what marks the full-circle return to his birthplace. Azevedo is still very connected with Brazil, a nation close to his heart, as he plays professionally for the club team SESI from São Paulo with whom he became Brazilian vice champion in 2013 and Brazilian league champion the following year. The 33-year old was already active at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and led Team USA to a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing. While playing professionally in Europe Azevedo made it to three Euro League Final Fours where he finished 2nd twice and 3rd once playing for Jug Dubrovnik and VK Primorac Kotor from 2009-2013. Azevedo was top scorer of the 2007 World Championships in Melbourne and most recently led the USA men’s team with 15 goals during the 2015 World Championships in Kazan where the Americans finished 7th.
Current world and European champion Branislav Mitrovic, goalkeeper of the Serbian men’s national team, starred at the 2015 FINA World Championships in Kazan where he was a standout in the team that dominated competition on the way to the first world title for Serbia since 2009 in Rome before being awarded Best Goalkeeper of the final. Mitrovic previously was part of the Serbian team that won the European championship in 2012 in Eindhoven, and in 2014 in Budapest while also claiming three straight World League gold medals, in 2013, 2014 and 2015. This season not only brings in the Olympics but a first highlight is expected in January, 2016 where Serbia defends its European title at home in Belgrade from 10-23 January. Branislav ‘Bane’ Mitrovic since becoming part of the national has been a part of an intriguing battle for the starting spot in the cage together with fellow goalie Gojko Pijetlovic. The 30-year old has played in the Hungarian league since 2010 and currently is in his second season with ZF-Eger.
Felipe Perrone is the veteran and undisputed leader of the Brazilian men’s national team. Perrone, also born in Rio de Janeiro, left his home country in 2002 to play in the Spanish league and a few years later also obtained Spanish citizenship in order to play for the Spanish national team. The relatively small but notably fast and technically gifted Perrone went on to become a cornerstone of the Spanish team with whom he won the bronze medal during the 2006 European Championships in Belgrade, bronze the following year at the world championships in Melbourne and silver at the 2009 world championships in Rome. With the 2016 Olympics in his hometown Rio de Janeiro coming up, 29-year old Perrone decided to return home to play for Brazil and last season led the team, coached by Croatian legend Ratko Rudic, to a bronze medal at the World League Super Final in Bergamo and scored a team-high 13 goals during the 2015 World Championships in Kazan where Brazil was ranked 10th. Playing in Spain and Italy Perrone was part of the teams that won 7 Spanish national championships (CN Atletic-Barceloneta), 2 Italian championships (Pro Recco) and a Euro League/Champions League title with Pro Recco (2011-2012) and Barceloneta (2013-2014) while also being awarded Most Valuable Player of that year’s Final Six. Perrone currently plays for Jug Dubrovnik.
Photos by Gertjan Kooij / Beeldboot.