Friday, August 10, 2012

2012 Summer Olympics: The Women of USA Water Polo win GOLD!!!

Last night was the crowning event of the Olympics for me as a photographer. I had the chance to shoot the gold medal match for team that brought me to the Games. Being the only photographer for the team meant that I was being relied on for not only good editorial images but they also wanted specific images for their sponsors and partners. The pressure was on!

And of course, it wasn't really about me. The real pressure was on the women of Team USA to try and beat the Spaniards, when in a previous round the two teams had ended in a tie.

Spain started off strong and took an early lead, but the Americans weren't going to be denied the gold medal and they came back even stronger.

This goal tied the game at 2 a piece.

Once again, Maggie Steffens (also from the SF Bay Area) came up huge in this game. She ended up scoring 5 goals in the gold medal match for a total of 21 goals in the Olympics. Amazing - and she earned the sports MVP for that accomplishment!

Each time that the US women would score, the bench would erupt, as they could feel themselves getting closer to a gold medal.

Betsey Armstrong was crazy good once again, stopping shot after shot. You know how they say that defense wins games? This was true last night.

Maggie scoring on a penalty shot to really open up the lead.

As the clock ticked down towards the end of the game, it was time for one last pep talk to make sure that the team stayed focused.

The crowd was louder and crazier than any other game so far, and rightfully so. It was the gold medal match after all.

And then the clock wound down to 0:00 and the game was over. Team USA had won their first gold medal ever! For the last half of the game, I was concentrating on shooting the best images possible for the team, at the same time as feeling chills going through my body. It was such an amazing experience to be on the pool deck for this moment in time, capturing history. I can not imagine what the women felt!

Everybody from the team was in the pool after the game, players, coaches, medical staff...

After some initial celebrating, the team turned and thanked the audience, family and friends.

Pressure was on for me to get the team together for some team shots (and fight for position along with all the other photographers.)

Jessica and Maggie Steffens looking up towards mom and dad.

And then I got their attention for this shot.

Brenda Villa and Heather Petri, both 4 time Olympic athletes.

That is one crazy looking crowd.

 The medal ceremony!!

I love this shot with the girls showing each other their medals.

Introducing the gold medal team from the United States of America!

Fighting off tears of happiness...

Thankfully I saw the coaching staff come out and grabbed this image of them during the ceremony.

Congratulations to the women of USA Water Polo!!!!!

And after a couple hours of editing, I was off to the team party, where I got a chance to celebrate with the team. And...for the first time, I got to touch and wear a gold medal. This is me and Maggie Steffans, the MVP. What an awesome night!!!

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