BELGRADE – No more Olympic pressure for Serbia. Just the sweet relief of gold, AP reports.
Dusan Mandic scored four times, Branislav Mitrovic made 12 saves and Serbia dethroned Croatia with an 11-7 victory in the men’s water polo final at the Rio Games on Saturday.
Serbia was the favorite coming into the Rio Games, increasing the pressure on the players to bring home the country’s first Olympic title in perhaps its favorite sport. The former Yugoslavia won three gold medals and Serbia and Montenegro lost in the 2004 final in Athens, but Serbia finished third in each of the previous two Olympics.
No settling for bronze this time around. After opening with two draws and a loss to Brazil, Serbia closed with five straight victories.
There were hugs on Serbia’s side of the pool as the final seconds ticked off, and the players jumped right in when it was over.
Coach Dejan Savic avoided the traditional swim with his team, even sneaking off the deck for a moment before returning to the bench to watch the celebration. He wagged his finger and blew kisses to his players as they beckoned him to join them in the water.
Italy beat Montenegro 12-10 for the bronze medal.