|© Mitchell Haaseth / NBC Olympics|
"I expect them to play for and win the gold medal."
U-M water polo coach Matt Anderson predicts victory for the U.S. women in the Summer Olympics in London, where water polo competition starts July 30. "We should be and we are the favorite, because we're the best women's water polo nation in the world right now," Anderson says. "And the large reason for that is Betsey [Armstrong]."
Armstrong, a six-foot-one Ann Arbor native, "was made to play goalie," says Anderson, who coached her at Michigan. "She's intimidating because of her size--agile, quick, and able to cover a large amount of space. She also has the composure you want in a goalie. No matter what happens, she's able to bounce back strong."
In a phone interview, Armstrong recalls that she followed her older sister, Katy, into both the sport and the position: "She was a goalie, and she was really good at it." But after graduating from the U-M in 2005 with a degree in English, she took time off from competition.
"It was a year of self-discovery for her," says her father, Tom Armstrong, a professor of industrial operations and biomechanics in the U-M engineering school. "She was a little burned out on water polo. She worked at the Red Hawk and Espresso Royale, and that got her away from water polo and academic pressures."
"I really enjoyed my time at both places," Armstrong emails from London. "It was challenging to do something so different and new, but I made some really great friends." She also decided to try out for the Olympic team--because, she says, "I didn't want to think 'what if' down the road." With Armstrong in goal, the U.S. women took the silver medal in Beijing in 2008, and earned their spot in London with a hard-won victory in the Pan Am Games last fall. "It was an eight-team tournament, and it was a nail-biter every game," Armstrong says.
Her former coach says Armstrong is as good
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