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London 2012 Golden Bears Olympians: Aleksa Saponjic, Water Polo, Serbia

An interview in Serbian (I think). This video is really only here in lieu of a picture.

Rising Cal sophomore, Aleksa Saponjic, is the latest Cal Bears to make it to London. The Serbian standout, who has already made some mark international despite only being 20, will be a part of the Serbian water polo squad that is considered by some odds makers to be the favorite this summer for the gold medal.

In his freshman campaign, Aleksa got to play with his older brother Luka (who was a senior last season). Even though the season came to a disappointing end (with the Saponjic parents flew out to the US for a NCAA championship tournament that did not include the Bears), Aleksa was third on the team in scoring with 30 goals in 22 matches and tallied 22 assists and 18 steals; in the process, the Center Forward earned All American honorable mention status.

It is interesting to note that two other Serbian Cal water polo great from this past season, Luka and 2011 Cutino Award (the water polo Heisman, named after the legendary Cal water polo player and coach Peter Cutino) winner, Ivan Rackov, did not make the Serbian Olympic team while Aleksa has made it as a starter.

See highlight video of Aleksa (twitter handle: @aleksah2o) after the jump.

Highlight reel of Aleksa Saponjic (to be honest, I'm a bit confused by the highlights toward the end listing '89, '91, etc. world championships, should be those jr world champioships, but an early closeup does appear to be that of the Cal Aleksa):

From his Cal profile:

Along with his brother Luka (senior at Cal) was a member of the Serbian National Team that captured the gold medal at the 2011 World University Games in Shenzen, China

Ended the 2011 World University Games with six goals and a team-high nine assists

Also helped Serbia to gold medal at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Volos, Greece

Was a member of medal winning Serbian teams at the 2008 European Junior Championships in Serbia (silver), the 2009 European Junior Championships in Greece (bronze), and the 2009 FINA World Junior Championships in Croatia (bronze)

Undeclared major

Parents are Nebojsa and Tatjana Saponjic

Born June 4, 1992, in Belgrade, Serbia

To read the full official Cal Athletics release about Aleksa, click here. Here is the money quote:

"This is a tremendous honor for Aleksa, we are all extremely proud of him and wish him the best of luck in London," said Cal coach Kirk Everist, a member of the 1992 and 1996 USA Olympic Teams. "It is very difficult to make the Olympics and to do it at his age is a testimony to his ability, desire and work-ethic. Aleksa is the type of player who will fill whatever role he needs to in order to make his team successful and this is a big reason why he will soon be an Olympian. I know he will fight very hard to help his team in London, we look forward to watching him compete and we look forward to getting him back at Cal for the fall season."

Go Aleksa and GO BEARS!