Aug. 9, 2012
LONDON -Cal's Heather Petri, the oldest member of the USA women's water polo team and a veteran of four Olympic Games, finally got her gold medal as the former Golden Bear standout scored a goal in the Americans' 8-5 victory over Spain Thursday (Aug. 9) in the championship match of the 2012 London Games. Another former Cal star, Elsie Windes, was also golden, playing in over 20 minutes of the contest and recording an assist and and a field block.
Petri, 34, was a spark for Team USA in the second period. The Orinda native started the quarter off by winning the sprint and then with 6:22 left in the first half and the Americans trailing, 2-1, she scored on a long shot to even the score, 2-2. The United States never trailed after Petri's goal.
"What a great accomplishment for both of these young women," said Cal women's water polo coach Richard Corso, who coached Elsie Windes in college and was the 1996 USA men's Olympic water polo coach. "For Heather, she is a four-time Olympian and for her to get a gold medal in what could be her final Olympics, it doesn't get any better than that. She had a great match. That shot she made was brilliant and gave the United States a lot of confidence. I had the pleasure of coaching Elsie and she was just an outstanding student-athlete and a great player. This win today is a great statement as to where Cal and USA water polo is among the world stage. You couldn't ask for better role models than Heather Petri and Elsie Windes."
Petri and teammate Brenda Villa are the first U.S. women to compete in four consecutive Olympic Games in water polo and now have a gold medal for their efforts. The United States had medaled in all three prior Olympic competitions for women's water polo, winning a silver medal in 2000 in Sydney, a bronze medal in 2004 in Athens and a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing. Windes joined Petri at the 2008 games in Beijing.
The Americans finished the London Games 5-0-1 in London with earlier victories over Hungary (14-13), China (7-6), Italy in the quarterfinals (9-6) and Australia (11-9 OT) in the semifinals. The United States' only blemish was a 9-9 tie with Spain on Aug. 1.
Petri lettered at Cal from 1997-99 and returned to finish her degree and eligibility in 2001 after the 2000 Sydney Games. Windes had a stellar career for the Bears, earning All-America honors from 2005-07. Through her years with Team USA, Petri has had the pleasure of competing in the Olympics with three different Bears - Courtney Johnson and Ericka Lorenz in 2000, Lorenz in 2004, and Windes in 2008 - and even a former coach, Maureen O'Toole-Purcell in 2000.