A youth caught on video appearing to try to light a police car on fire in Vancouver on Wednesday night has been identified as an elite athlete who was headed to the University of Calgary on scholarship.

Nathan Kotylak, 17, was identified as being in the crowd of rioters who rampaged through Vancouver's downtown streets after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins.

Water Polo Canada later announced it has suspended a high-level polo player over allegations he was involved in the riot.

Ahmed El-Awadi, executive director of Water Polo Canada, said in a news release that the player, who was not named, has contacted the organization through a lawyer to indicate he will co-operate fully with any disciplinary process.

The Grade 12 student from the Vancouver suburb of Maple Ridge attends a private school and plays water polo on Canada's junior national team.

Kotylak had received a partial scholarship to attend the University of Calgary to study kinesiology, and hoped one day to compete in the Olympics, according to his father.

After the picture of Kotylak vandalizing a police car became one of the most viewed images in the riot's aftermath, the young athlete was repeatedly outed on Facebook and other social networking sites by people who recognized him.

The teen's father, a surgeon in B.C., told CBC News on Friday that the Grade 12 student will be "doing the right thing" by turning himself in.

He added he wishes his older son had been there that night to look out for his 17-year-old and described the photo as "misleading."

Water Polo Canada said that under its policies, a hearing will be held at the earliest possible date to consider the facts of the case and to determine whether disciplinary action is warranted, said El-Awadi.

With files from The Canadian Press