When Tumua Anae turned eight-years-old, she began swimming competitively and dreaming of becoming an Olympian. In 2012, that dream came true, except that she is competing on the 2012 London Olympics Water Polo Team. Her sophomore year at Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, California, she decided swimming was boring, although she still loved being in the water every day, so she took up water polo instead, at the urging of friends. Her sister also switched to water polo. She showed a natural talent for the sport and 2005 and 2006 she was part of the CIF Water Polo Champions Division II and in 2004 and 2006 she was part of the CIF Swimming Champions Div II.
Tumua Anae, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is therefore sometimes referred to as a Mormon, comes from an athletic family. Her grandparents expected her father to go to the Olympics someday. He became a doctor instead. Her sister played water polo in college and is the wife of Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Fili Moala, who is also Mormon. Her Olympic coach says that one thing that stands out about Tumua is that she puts her family before sports, a principle Mormons are taught early on. While her sports are important, they are just games.
“Anae is the only Mormon on her team, and she said that her team is well aware of her religious beliefs.
“When we go out on a team trip and go out and they drink after a game win or big tournament they say, ‘Oh yeah, Tumua can’t come, she’s Mormon,’ or, ‘Tumua you can’t watch — this movie is bad and you’re Mormon,’ but they all respect that and I’m used to that,” Anae said” (Water polo goalie and Mormon Tumua Anae a candidate for 2012 USA Olympic team By Tori Ackerman, Deseret News Published: Wednesday, March 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT)
After high school, Tunua went on to play water hockey at the University of Southern California. Adam Krikorian, who is now the coach at Team USA, was then coaching at UCLA. He noted her even then, when his team played against hers. He said she had a good hockey build, quick reaction time, and a habit of putting the team first.
She lost her starting position on the team in 2009 to a newly recruited Olympic champion. Her coach said that most students would have been furious and made a scene, but if she was upset, she kept it to herself. Instead, she just worked even harder and won her spot back.
She was first team All-American in college, even though she had shoulder surgery. Tulua majored in broadcast journalism. After college, she began training with Team USA. In May 2012, she made the Olympic team as a backup to Betsy Armstrong, who is considered the best women’s water polo player in the world.
The USA women’s team beat China and overall had two wins and a tie in the preliminary round and was one of the top two teams in their group heading into the finals. When all was said and done, the US team took the Gold!
Anae fulfills Olympic dream, May 17, 2012|By Matt Szabo