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Thousands Pay Respects to Water Polo Legend Benedek

Hungary Today 2020.06.19.

From fans, friends and coaches to former teammates, thousands of people gathered at Budapest’s Margaret Island late on Thursday to pay their respects to three-time Olympic champion water polo player Tibor Benedek, who died on Thursday, weeks before his 48th birthday, after a long illness.

The memorial at the Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Stadium was organised by the Hungarian Water Polo Association (MVLSZ) and the Budapest-based water polo club UVSE, that Benedek coached until May.

Photo by Márton Mónus/MTI

Many placed candles, flowers and photos of Benedek in front of the stadium’s main entrance.

The event was also attended by the state secretary in charge of sports Tünde Szabó, MVLSZ president and Benedek’s former teammate Attila Vári, former Hungarian president who is a member of the International Olympic Committee and the honorary head of the Hungarian Olympic Committee Pál Schmitt, and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony.

Photo by Márton Mónus/MTI

Participants also commemorated of György Kárpáti, another three-time Olympic champion water polo player, who died on Wednesday at the age of 84.

Tibor Benedek, who is considered one of the best water polo players ever and arguably the best left-handed player ever, was part of the Hungarian national team, the Golden Team, that emerged as Olympic champion three times in a row (in 2000, 2004, and 2008). This includes a European and World Championship crown. He was named Hungarian Water Polo Player of the Year in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2002 and in 2000 he was voted into the Hungarian water polo team of the century.

Friends and Former Teammates Say Goodbye to Legendary Water Polo Player Tibor Benedek

In addition, after having retired from playing, from 2013 he also coached the national team and led it once again to clinch the World Championship title in his first year in charge.

Featured photo by Márton Mónus/MTI