Host City: London, Great Britain
Date Finished: August 12, 2012
Participants: 260 (156 men and 104 women) from 14 countries
Youngest Participant: Dušan Mandić (18 years, 44 days)
Oldest Participant: Iván Pérez (41 years, 31 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 76 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 6 countries with 1 medal
For 2012 Water polo had its’ own specially built venue that would not be shared with any other aquatic event. The 5,000 seat temporary arena sat next to the main Aquatic centre until it was taken down after the Games. Although the number of teams, twelve male and eight female, was unchanged since Beijing the competition format saw a small change. In 2008 three countries qualified for the knockout stages from each of the two qualifying groups with the top two seeded into the semi-finals but in 2012 four teams qualified from each group. In particular this reduced the group stage of the women’s tournament into merely a competition to decide the draw for the last eight.
There were historic victories in both the men’s and women’s event. Yugoslavia had been one of the major powers in men’s water polo and was second only to Hungary in Olympic success. The victory of Croatia was the first by a former constituent republic since the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991. In the women’s event the United States had won a medal at every Olympic Games since the introduction of women’s water polo in 2000 but had never taken the gold. This drought was broken in London in emphatic fashion.