Waterpolo says goodbye to triple Olympic Champions, Gyorgy Karpati and Tibor Benedek.
Although the new generation would not be familiar with the name Gyorgy Karpati, one could not but marvel at his incredible story, of Olympic stardom.
Three-time Olympic water polo champion Karpati was a water polo trailblazer having won three gold medals at Helsinki 1952, Melbourne 1956 and Tokyo 1964, all of which contributed to Hungary's record tally of nine golds medals in the Olympic Games.
He also won bronze at the Rome 1960 Games but Karpati is best known for being part of the Hungarian team that crushed the Soviet Union team at the Melbourne 1956 Games, which happened during the political upheaval between the two countries in the game which coined as the "Blood water match"
The modern game evolved through a phenomenal generation of Hungarian players led by Tibor Benedek under the guidance of Dénes Kemény.
Benedek was considered to be one of the greatest water polo players of all time, having won three straight Olympic gold medals at Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
After a hugely successful playing career that also included World Championship and European Championship Golds, Benedek became head coach of the Hungary national team in 2013, leading them to a World Championship title in his first year in charge.
Benedek was the second highest scorer in Olympic history, with 65 goals, joint top scorer at the Barcelona 1992 games with 22 goals, and top scorer at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, with 19 goals. In total he competed in five Olympic Games - one of only nine water polo players in history to have done so.
The Hungarian Water Polo Federation announced "For his family, team mates, water polo society and fans he has left behind an incomprehensible void that cannot be filled."
FINA also payed tribute to the water polo great, calling him: "A role model for many for his work ethics, dedication and clear view on the game – Tibor Benedek will be badly missed by not only the Magyars but the entire world of water polo."
Great players have aired their respect to a great warrior :
Aleksandar Šapić wrote " A man I loved in a strange way, though we never talked for too long. A man who was one of the greatest professionals in the history of our sports, who was never tired or prepared. A man who has made a lot of influence to be the player I was, and unfortunately he didn't even know that, because I didn't have the courage to approach him and say it all. And I wanted to.... and almost, three years ago, when I met him at a review game in Budapest, where we played a little against each other again.. I remembered the old twins, everything... and I wanted to do it again I tell him all this and I gave up again... and I don't know why. Tiger, you will never know how much you mean to me as an athlete and I will never forget what you were in our world."
Dénes Varga said " The water polo has become a serious thing in me by Tibor! Because everyone knows how they were on sports, it couldn't be disrespected. And when my first national match went down, he put the Australian flag in my hand and said, " Good luck in your career!" It doesn't sound like a big deal, but this changed everything in me then and there! He taught a lot of people to fight and win! How many? Maybe even more than what he knew! "
Maurizio Felugo said this: " Tibor made me increase my performance in training and to improve even more. It was enough to look at him to understand what it takes to become a champion. He had exceptional humility, this characterized his commitment to work and his team. Why did Hungary win three Olympic gold medals? If you look at Tibor, you'll understand. If there is a God of sport, he rewarded all that Tibor gave to water polo and his teammates with these victories." Rest in peace!"
Attila Vári “Hard… Very difficult… I search, I find it hard to find the words… Memories are deburred, shared memories. When we were kids, when we went head to head against the wall as young titans, when we worked hard from workout to workout so we could stand on top of the podium once. We stood there. Together, holding each other's hands, smiling, crying. We are still crying, weeping, together, the water polo family, together the sports family, together the Hungarians. It is an incomprehensible loss that Tibi is no longer with us, that we cannot laugh together, we cannot embrace each other. He was a role model, a true role model, both as a player and as a coach. A role model as a person. Difficult… Very difficult… We have suffered irreparable loss. Tibi, I promise, we will continue the wonderful work you have started, the reform of the youth, with the others! You will always be here in our hearts! God be with you, my friend! ”
Krisztián Manhercz: "You were the one who invited me to the national team and I can thank you for being able to represent Hungary at the OLYMPICS! Thank you for everything MASTER! ”
Gábor Kis: " True, I can't hug and shake hands, but you'll always be here with us! You take care of your Family, Friends and Water Polo from above! "
Endre Molnár: "The two Geniuses of Hungarian Water Polo left us here almost at the same time. 😞 Gyuri was at the end of a great life fulfilled. as always in his whole life - but fate wanted it differently."
Adam Steinmetz: "FAREWELL species I learned with deep pain and shock that one of the best water polo players in the world, my former Olympic champion teammate and my role model since my childhood, Tibor Benedek, left us here at the age of 47. Although I knew about his long-term serious illness, but knowing his ability to fight, I still hoped to overcome it. It was a great gift of life that I could get to know: first I admired his game as a fan, then I caught him as an opponent in the match, and then we could stand on top of the podium together. His career and athletic attitude are exemplary for us and future generations. Tibi, let it be easier for you above, we will preserve your memory and you will be in our hearts forever! " Kiss Gergely: "Benedek Tibi. For almost twenty years, he has been the greatest figure in water polo in the world and in Hungarian sports. Benedek-TIBI! As a fan at the age of 16, I shouted this to the Goal King in the packed Komyad. Then at the national team, I trembled as an out-of-frame guest when you just happened to look at me as the National Team Leader. At the age of 19 on the right, I was able to become your Warrior Companion for you, the best left-hander in the world. At the age of 23, I was able to stand up with you, the Champion, to the top step of the Olympic podium. At the age of 27, I could finally be your clubmate, I could see the miracle every day. You guided us for years as a Team Captain calmly with a pure heart. He was surrounded by an unspeakable and respectful aura. The water was also always foaming around you because you wanted to win, every second. As a master, you have given way to two generations in your hands at both the national team and club level. Top scorer. Champion. Warrior. Comrade. Role Model. Leader. Team captain. Master. And the most important: Child, Husband, Father, Friend. All Hungarian people and all water polo players in the world can only learn from you, look up to you. Never, no one will approach you either! You alone are more for people and the sports world than you can say in words. Now nothing can be as it used to be ... Inconceivable, incomprehensible, inexpressible ... I can't believe it! Tibi, you are irreplaceable !!! "
Tamás Varga: "Dear Tibikem, this whole thing is inconceivable and unbelievable, it 's hard to find words because you leave a huge space behind you like Dad, Friend, Coach, Role Model CHAMPION, CAPTAIN and MAN. ! The way you trained, with that fanaticism, before and throughout the Olympics !!! Thank God I was able to play with you in a national team for 12 years and I learned from you that man's endurance is not where he thinks he is tired but when give up !!! YOU NEVER GIVE UP !!! Rest in Peace I will preserve my precious Tibikem memory and I WILL NEVER FORGET Thanks for everything"
Viktor Nagy: "I don't even know where to start because it's hard to put my feelings into words. Tibi was the strongest person I've ever known and I can't believe he's no longer with us. I met him in 2007 when I got out for my first world race. but when I personally saw how much and how focused he was training or how important the team was to him, he became a real role model. From 2013, the development of my career was largely due to Tibi. Tibi brought out the performance I could give at the World Cup in Barcelona. It gave me maximum confidence, starting the other half of my career. Without it, I certainly wouldn’t be a Vb, Eb and Bl winner. I also received my first wristband from Him, which He always reminds me of. Thank you Tibi, I will never forget the shared experiences! "
Andrei Iosep: "Today a star has fallen ... one of the brightest polo stars in the world! He suffered in silence and remained close to his last-minute adored sport. Rest in peace, legend! "
For those who had the opportunity to watch Benedek at work, were marvelled by his ability to create.
For those who played against Benedek were always expecting the unexpected!
For those who coached against Benedek made sure he was heavily marked
For those who had the pleasure of refereeing Benedek were respected by his professionalism.
For the next generation will forever be reminded of the #8 from Hungary that possessed not only great ability, profound professionalism, supreme leadership but an absolute aura of greatness, Tibor Benedek.... R.I.P.