COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, October 10. THE final of the women’s water polo tournament at the 2012 Olympics gave the United States its first gold medal since the sport was introduced in 2000. It was a gold medal that was almost lost due to a mistake made by head coach Adam Krikorian.
In the semifinal match against Australia, Krikorian accidentally called a timeout in the game’s final seconds. Krikorian mistakenly believed the USA had possession of the ball — a requirement to call a timeout — and with that error, he gave Australia the opportunity to tie the game and go into overtime with a penalty shot.
The United States would win that semifinal game and go on to glory in the final.
Friday evening at a banquet during the U.S. Olympic Committee’s annual assembly, Krikorian will receive the Jack Kelly Fair Play award for “composure (and) crediting his players for showing resolve and making the best of a difficult situation.”
In an article by Alan Abrahamson for 3WireSports.com, Krikorian talks about the moment he owned up to the misjudged call for a timeout with his teammates before overtime play began.
“I just made the biggest mistake of my life,” Krikorian said. “Immediately all these thoughts go through your head: ‘I just cost my team the chance to play in the gold-medal game,’ a dream they had been working toward for three or four years, some of them 12 years. There was a lot of battling inside my own head.”
Krikorian sent an email statement to Swimming World to further describe the feeling of being honored with the Fair Play Award: “It’s an honor to receive this award, but I must accept it on behalf of the entire team. After all, it was them that showed tremendous focus and determination through adverse times and during that semifinal.”
Friday’s ceremony will be hosted by Olympic swimming legend Rowdy Gaines and will also feature the Olympic Torch Award presented to Evie Dennis for a lifetime of work with the USOC and USA Track & Field. Tamika Catchings will receive the Rings of Gold award for her Catch the Stars foundation, while the Lakeshore Foundation will also get the Rings of Gold honor for working with disabled athletes.