U.S. Coach Rudic to take over his native Croatia's team
(12-09) 12:22 PST LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. (AP)
Ratko Rudic is stepping down as U.S. men's water polo coach to take over his native Croatia's team.
Rudic's departure comes after he recently signed a four-year contract extension with USA Water Polo. He is the most successful Olympic coach in the sport's history, having won gold medals in 1984 and '88 with Yugoslavia and in 1992 with Italy.
He guided the Americans to a seventh-place finish in the Athens Olympics.
"We are sad to see Ratko leave," USA Water Polo executive director Tom Seitz said Thursday. "He brought innovation to our training and organization that will benefit our program for years to come."
Rudic took over the U.S. men's team in 2001, months after coaching Italy to a fifth-place finish over the Americans in the Sydney Games.
The United States finished second in the 2003 U.S. Cup, won gold at the 2003 Pan American Games and finished third in the 2003 FINA World League Super Final.
Rudic helped launch the American Water Polo League as a way to professionalize the sport in the United States, like it is in Europe.
Rudic will take over a Croatian team that finished 10th in Athens.