SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Two-time Olympic champion Kami Craig retired after a 13-year career with Team USA women's water polo.
The former Santa Barbara High School star won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and took silver at the 2008 Olympics.
“It is nearly impossible to put into words what it has meant to me to be a part of the Women's Senior National team over the last 13 years. To have the opportunity to represent my country, the USA, playing the sport I love, and competing with a group of individuals who share the same passion and fire will be a time in my life I will forever cherish,” said Craig. “While winning has always been a huge motivation for me, it has been the time I spent training with my teammates that made showing up to the pool day in and day out not only possible, but enjoyable. I am forever grateful for the laughs, tears and experiences I shared with my teammates. My teammates and coaches are like family – we share this unbreakable bond that will last a lifetime. I would like to thank the many incredible people who have loved and supported me throughout this journey. Besides my coaches and teammates, I would like to thank the fans who brought such joy and positive energy to the pool deck and cheered on the team from their living rooms when they couldn’t make it to the games. Lastly, I would especially like to thank my parents who sacrificed everything to make my dream of being an Olympic water polo player a reality.”
"Kami will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, center to have ever played this game. Her combination of strength, explosiveness, and skill were a nightmare for our opponents to deal with, not to mention for our very own defenders on a daily basis. We knew we could always count on Kami. Every game, every possession. Her consistency provided us with some comfort and confidence to be able to play freely and was a byproduct of the professionalism she carried throughout her entire career, spanning a remarkable three separate quadrennials. Behind the scenes, she worked hard to build relationships and make connections with and between people that helped us become the strongest TEAM in the world. She held us all accountable, staff included, for doing things with a purpose, striving to be better daily, being more open and honest with each other, and quite simply, doing things the right way," said Adam Krikorian, Women’s Senior National Team Head Coach and Craig’s national team head coach (2009-16).
She will be honored at Santa Barbara High School on Saturday, December 16 before Team USA's exhibition game with the Netherlands at 2pm.
Here are Craig's career highlights with Team USA.
Fresh off a FINA World Championship in 2007, Craig was the youngest member of Team USA at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. There, the reserve center kicked off what would be three straight trips to the Olympic podium helping the United States to a silver medal. As her National Team career took off Craig established herself as the top player in the college game. She was twice named the recipient of the Cutino Award as the player of the year and led USC to an NCAA crown in 2010.
On the international circuit she continued to thrive. A second consecutive World Championship followed in 2009 as Craig took over the starting center position. In 2010 she added a FINA World Cup crown, the first for the program in 31 years. In 2012 Team USA reached an all-time high securing their first ever Olympic gold medal where Craig scored two pivotal overtime goals in a semifinal victory over Australia. She continued on through the next quadrennial piling up gold medals including three more FINA World League Super Final crowns from 2014-2016 to finish her career with nine Super Final gold medals. In 2015 Craig and Team USA were World Champions again as they prepared for the 2016 Olympic Games. 2016 marked another year of undisputed excellence and a fitting finish to Craig’s career. She helped the United State to gold at the Olympic Qualification tournament, earning a spot in Rio, plus another gold at the Super Final. She capped it all off with a second consecutive Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Games where Team USA went undefeated on the way to the title.
2x Olympic Gold Medalist (2012, 2016)
1x Olympic Silver Medalist (2008)
3x FINA World Champion (2007, 2009, 2015)
2x FINA World Cup Gold Medalist (2010, 2014)
9x FINA World League Super Final Gold Medalist (2006-2007, 2009-2012, 2014-2016)
3x Pan American Games Gold Medalist (2007, 2011, 2015)
1x NCAA Champion (USC) (2010)
2x Cutino Award Recipient (USC) (2009, 2010)
Pac-12 All-Century Team Selection