Olympics Field Guide: Peter Hudnut, Water Polo's Comeback KidS

Name: Peter Hudnut

Sport: Water polo

Hometown: Encino, Calif.

Age: 32

Why you should care about him: Hudnut took two years off from competitive water polo following the 2008 Olympics to get his MBA at Stanford (he will start working at Goldman Sachs immediately following the Games). In fact, for a while, he stopped working out altogether. During that time he got fat. Hudnut told ESPN he gained about 35 pounds. When he took his girlfriend to see a match between the U.S. and Montenegro in 2010, Hudnut realized he wasn't done playing. He says he borrowed a P90X video from one of his friends and started to try to get back in shape. Two years later, here he is.

Even Hudnut's appearance at the 2008 games was unlikely. While training to compete for a spot on the 2004 Olympic team, Hudnut suffered a crippling back injury. Doctors found two fractured vertebrae with a synovial cyst growing between them. Hudnut believes the injury originated when he took a knee to the back in a game against Russia, over a year before it was discovered. "The cyst had become so big, it cut off my sciatic nerve," he told ESPN. But Hudnut still had 10 months before the roster for the Olympic team would be finalized, and he wasn't about to give up on trying to make the roster. He had surgery to remove the cyst and started rehabbing. From an ESPN.com profile of Hudnut:

He was bedridden for three weeks after the surgery, and when he was able to start rehab, he didn't have a specific injury to target like he did with his shoulder. His right leg was all but useless, his core was soft and his cardiovascular fitness was shot. But every day, Hudnut showed up to national team practice. While his teammates swam thousands of yards, lifted weights and worked on strategies, he pulled a mat next to the pool and performed crunches—first 10, then 50, then 100 per day.

Hudnut failed to make the team, but was named an alternate. He told Stanford Magazine in 2008:

"I went from not being able to walk to becoming an alternate on the Olympics water polo team, all in 10 months."

Olympic/world championships experience: Hudnut was on the US team that took silver in Beijing four years ago and has been playing in world championships since 2002. He's also played professionally in Spain and Italy.

Sexy-pose threat level: Hudnut was Cosmo's 2007 California Bachelor (but, alas, he is single no more). Here's his profile:

Name: Peter Hudnut
Age: 27
Hometown: Los Angeles
Cosmo Username: CALIFORNIABACH07
Occupation: Olympic Water-Polo Player
Personality profile: "I'm kind, adventurous, and committed to my goals."
Beijing bound: "When I was 14, I wrote down that I was going to be an Olympic water-polo player. Now I'm training for the 2008 Games."
Catch his eye by: "Giving me a quick glance and a nice smile. A look like that is so inviting, it gets my thoughts racing."
Sexiest chick moment: "When a woman first wakes up, she looks so fresh and natural."
Midriff man: "I like to run my fingers across a girl's stomach. I can't get enough of the way it feels; the skin is so soft."
Wow him by wearing: "Fitted jeans. I love how they curve around a woman's body."
Make-him-melt move: "When we're holding hands, kiss the inside of my wrist. It's tender and sexy at the same time."
Dating deal breaker: "When a girl is nice to me but rude to a waiter. It shows selfishness."

Olympics Field Guide: Peter Hudnut, Water Polo's Comeback KidS

Olympic archetype: Gail Devers, who came back from Graves' disease to win multiple track golds.

Scouting report from some gal on the internet: GossipSauce.com named Hudnut their "Hot Sauce of the Day" back in August of 2008:

We've been so distracted by our love of Mikey Phelps, we've ignored many of the other Olympic lustables. An unforgivable oversight we will begin to rectify immediately.
We offer this as our sincere apology: Peter Hudnut.
Bad name, good face. And, even covered up in a t-shirt and warm up pants, you can see there lurks the body of a Greek God underneath.
Petey is a member of the USA men's water polo team who was snapped arriving at LAX after winning a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics.
Go USA! Hudnut is Hot.

Scouting report from home country: From ESPN:

He's finally in game shape, and his spot on the team is secured. The team, which returns 11 of 13 athletes from Beijing, is training differently this year. Instead of coming together two months before the Games like in years past, every member of the team gave up his pro job overseas and moved to Thousand Oaks to train together for 10 months in pursuit of the program's first US. gold medal since 1904.

Did you know?: Every single player on the US men's national team is from the state of California.

Forecast for 2012: Historically, the US has not had much success in water polo. The silver medal in 2008 was the country's first medal since 1988. The US men took fourth place at the FINA World Super League final in June, which is a pretty good barometer for their chances in London. A medal is certainly not out of the question.

Relevant Bob Costas facial expression:

Olympics Field Guide: Peter Hudnut, Water Polo's Comeback Kid