A Moment Of Loss For Women's Water Polo Team What happens when gold turns to silver for the U.S. women's water polo team?
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A Moment Of Loss For Women's Water Polo Team

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A Moment Of Loss For Women's Water Polo Team

A Moment Of Loss For Women's Water Polo Team

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SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Howard Berkes has also been covering the Beijing Games for the past couple of weeks. Here's a page from his Olympics Notebook about a moment of dramatic loss.

HOWARD BERKES: Before winning athletes get their medals, they gather at a staging area spectators and reporters aren't supposed to see.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE SINGING)

BERKES: That's the Dutch women's water polo team singing and dancing in orange warm-ups. They had just won the gold medal, beating the United States in the final 30 seconds of play. The American women were standing right next to them, silent, grim-faced and tearful, waiting for the medal ceremony. They had silver and bronze from the last two Olympics, and they were the gold medal favorites in Beijing.

The players were cautiously optimistic when I visited their California training pool last month. I had my 15-year old daughter, Casey(ph), with me because she plays water polo, too. She had her own questions for Natalie Golda, an Olympic veteran and one of the team's best scorers.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE SINGING)

CASEY BERKES: Well, did you swim before you did water polo?

NATALIE GOLDA: I did not. I played softball and then - that's why I've got the shot that I do.

BERKES: Casey the novice and Natalie the Olympian seemed to connect. So when the Americans did not get that cherished gold medal, when they had to bear their disappointment right next to the victory celebration, the reporter and the dad in me wondered what lessons there might be for kids like Casey. Golda gamely tried to respond while fighting back tears in that noisy staging area.

GOLDA: You can't be angry with them. No. The silver medal, it's a great thing and I think it's just - it's bittersweet right now. It's the way this sport is. If you knew you were going to win every game, you wouldn't play.

BERKES: A little later, with the tears dried and the gold medalists chatting with reporters nearby, Golda had something to add.

GOLDA: We only see people on top of the play. We only see the winners. We only see the champions. And so I think an important thing to take away is that if you came in and you gave it your all and you put your heart and soul into it, then that's all you can really ask.

BERKES: Golda got up to leave and said, say hi to Casey for me, and I did in a phone call home. That's cool, dad, Casey told me. That's really cool.

SIMON: NPR's Howard Berkes.

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