19. Tony Azevedo
Striker, Water Polo
1 Silver Medal
The U.S. Olympic water polo team’s training borders on the absurd: swim for three hours, hit the gym for two, then get back in the pool for another three—six days a week with no off-season. “I’ll tell anyone that our sport is the toughest in the world,” says Azevedo, the team’s captain and arguably the best water polo player on the planet. That’s saying a lot for a man who doctors said would never walk again after a severed esophagus and trachea, sustained from a childhood fall, left him without a heartbeat for almost four minutes before a final attempt to revive him succeeded. “I was in and out of the hospital a lot around that time,” Azevedo says. “Then, when I could walk, they said I’d never play sports.”
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