International

Two stories collide

Photo: mtb-sport.net/photos

It was just a fraction. Caught by the director who maybe knew, or perhaps it was just coincidence. A hug and kiss from one for the other. Long-time teammates, 2009 world championships runner-up together. Both now in different teams, different roles and most of all part of different stories. They came together on that Tuesday in Rio.

Xavi Garcia had just completed his offensive breakthrough game for this 2nd home and new team Croatia while Felipe Perrone, absolute leader of Brazil, was held scoreless as the opposition knew his strength, but had carried his home nation to a memorable Olympics quarterfinals berth.

Felipe Perrone BRA Rio 16
Photo: mtb-sport.net/photos.

Maybe just an average moment of players congratulate one another after the final whistle. And perhaps as average to both guys this time. But typical of how an Olympic Games can bring together stories that no one would have made up in 2009 when both received the World Championships silver medal.

One eventually leaving for Croatia, settling with the family. Integrated in the country and the water polo community. When learned he was out of the plans for the Spanish side was welcomed with open arms in the vice-world champion Croatian national team. And with joining them, not too long before the Olympics, he only made the squad deeper and better.

The other one, born in Brazil but too good, moved to Europe to play in Italy and Spain and found a 2nd home. Joined a new national team in 2003 and experienced a rather successful 10-year stint which included 2006 European Championships bronze, 2007 World Championships bronze and as mentioned 2009 worlds silver. But when the 2016 Olympics were awarded to his birthplace Rio he knew that this was the moment to return. Part of an ambitious plan few would have believed in Perrone led the surprising Brazil squad in the group stage into the quarterfinals.

And there they met, after playing together at the 2012 Olympics, and on the highest podium again. Croatia proved too strong, Garcia top scored with 3 goals. Perrone settled for the loss but embarks on another mission: playing for a historic 5th place. No words were needed, just respect. Two stories which turned out to be successful came together on that Tuesday night in Rio. Two stories however that are not over. Not yet.

ESP team

Perrone (kneeling most left) and Garcia (kneeling most right) when both part of the 2012 Olympics Spanish squad.

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