Greek-American Stephania Haralabidis has been named to the U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Haralabidis, who is 26, will be making her first appearance at the Olympics this summer.
She has been playing water polo for nearly fifteen years, after making the switch from competitive swimming at the age of twelve.
The members of the U.S. squad were announced last week in Los Angeles. Haralabidis is among five other players who are joining the U.S. Olympic team for the very first time at this summer’s Olympic Games.
The U.S. Women’s Team has won gold at the last two Olympics, and are hoping to continue their streak in Tokyo this summer.
Japan will proceed with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics despite coronavirus-related concerns raised by Japanese health officials and others from around the world. The Games have been postponed once already in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Stephania Haralabidis is rare talent in water polo
Although this will be Haralabidis’ first stint at the Olympics, the star has already proven her skill on the world stage with her performance with the U.S. at the World League Super Final, where she scored a whopping thirteen times throughout the America’s six matches.
Although all of the players on the U.S. Women’s team are at the very pinnacle of the sport, Haralabidis has a unique quality that distinguishes her style of play even more than her score tally.
Haralabidis is left-handed — an anomaly in water-polo and amongst her teammates — and this quality shifts the dynamic in the pool and allows her to distribute the ball better amongst the other players.
“She’s a great distributor and she can shoot the ball,” said U.S. coach Adam Krikorian, describing Haralabidis’ unique athleticism. “Not to mention she’s probably the fastest player in the world. Her speed is unlike anything I’ve seen in this game.”
Haralabidis is Greek-American, with a Greek father and American mother; she was born in Athens and grew up there until she moved to America to play college water polo in Southern California.
Haralabidis played water polo in Greece as a youth, and started playing professionally in the States in 2017.
“When I first got here, I was really nervous and I didn’t really have any friends on the team,” Haralabidis said. “And every day I had to push myself to a point where my body was hurting, my mind was telling me you have to give up, like you can’t do this.
“But I just kept pushing and pushing and pushing until I got to a point where things started getting a little easier and I started creating friendships that are going to last a lifetime.”