It was those four years of high school that I dedicated myself to being better. I was up at 5:30am doing whatever it took to get bigger, stronger, faster. 
Tony Azevedo is a Brazilian-born, American water polo player, who graduated from Stanford University. As an immigrant and United States Olympian, Tony knew that he would need to apply himself to make his American Dream a reality. This is his story. 
Tell us a little bit about yourself? 
Tony: My name is Tony Azevedo and I'm from Long Beach California, I started playing water polo when I was 8 years old.
How did you get into playing Water Polo? 
Tony:  My father was a national team coach and he kind of grew threw the rankings until he was coaching the Olympic team. For me, I played tons of sports. My grandfather was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in baseball, so that was kind of my deal. But I played basketball and swam and it wasn't until the '96 Olympics that I really got inspired to do whatever it took to be an Olympian.


Was there a moment in your journey that defined your American Dream?
Tony:  Definitely. Those 1996 Olympics. Seeing these guys kissing, hugging, crying — celebrating what it meant to represent their country inspired me to do the same for my own country. 


From high school to college, tell us how you went from the high school pool to the Olympic one? 
Tony:  I went to Long Beach Wilson High School and joined the aquatics team - it was those four years of high school that I dedicated myself to being better. I was up at 5:30am doing whatever it took to get bigger, stronger, faster.
In three years, I graduated early and I ended up fulfilling my first dream which was going to Stanford University, and my second which was making my first Olympic team at 18 years old.


What is your biggest takeaway from this experience?
Tony:  The biggest thing I take away from this experience, and being born in Brazil, is I look at all the things that helped me get there. I couldn't have gotten to where I was today without the people that were willing to sacrifice their own time and jobs to make me the best that I can be. 


2008 was the year you won the Olympic Silver. Tell us about the team and what it took to win that silver?
Tony:  When I look back on 2008, you had two guys, maybe three on that team that the world new about - as far as world superstars in our sport. But to me, that Olympics exemplified what it means to be an American. 
We were willing. We were selfless. We did whatever it took and we were confident in ourselves bc we were the best team out there. Individually, we didn't have the best team. But together, there was no team willing to give a little of themselves for the betterment of the team like us. The idea of the underdog and teamwork, humility - these are traits that exemplify what it means to be an olympian in the USA. All things that exemplify working hard to make your American Dream a reality. 
Looking back on the podium, you've just lost the gold. But you're crying because you still won. The first silver for the US in 20 years. It wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the culture of the team. 


What would you say is the best part about what you do?
Tony:  Giving back to the sport. This is the time to give back and grow the sport in the state. To give it the respect it deserves. We created a way where people can understand the basics as to how you need to grow in the sport.


Tony Azevedo

Now some fun questions: 
1. I cannot live without..
2. Hidden talent? 
Cornhole specialist
3. Dream vacation?
Somewhere near the water where my daughter doesn't wake me up before 8am
4. Most prized possession?
Olympic Silver Medal
Lastly, what does the American Dream mean to you? 

Tony: The American Dream has in and of itself a willingness to succeed. That, coupled with being selfless and working with other individuals for the collective good of the group vs. the collective good of you is the most important part of the entire dream.



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