The Hungarian U20 men’s water polo team won the world championship title over the weekend. This happened only twice in the last 30 years, in 1995, and 2007. These two dates almost exactly frame one of the most glorious periods in the history of Hungarian water polo – and perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that it is one of the most glorious periods in the history of Hungarian sports, reports Mandiner.hu.
The golden era of the many golden years of Hungarian water polo is connected with the tenure of Dénes Kemény, with whom the team managed to win three Olympic titles. The core of the national team he led was the previous golden generation, the team that won the World Junior Championship in 1995. This team included players such as Tamás Kásás, Rajmund Fodor, Barna Steinmetz, Tamás Molnár, Gergely Kiss, Attila Vári, and the member of staff of current U20 World Champion, Bulcsú Székely.
This national team has given generations of players an unforgettable sporting experience. Their achievements can only be described in superlatives, as they won three Olympic gold medals in a row (2000, 2004, 2008), something that none of the golden generation of Hungarian water polo had ever managed before.
The “Golden Team” at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, photo: Facebook/waterpolo.hu
The victory at the Beijing Olympics was the ninth Olympic title for Hungarian water polo and made Hungary the most successful country in the world in the sport.
The Kemény boys, or as they are called in the title of the recently released film about the three-time Olympic champions, “the nation’s gold medalists,” won other things as well: the team won one gold and two silver medals at the World Championships, two gold medals, one silver, and four bronze medals at the European Championships, won the World Cup, and also finished second and third there. In addition to two wins in the World League, they finished second twice and third once in this competition.
Now, it seems, a new “Golden Team” is growing up before our eyes, literally the next generation, as the sons of two dominant players from Kemeny’s gold team, Peter Biros and Zoltán Szécsi, were also part of the U18 team that won the 2022 World Junior title, namely Samu Biros and Marcell Szécsi.
Marcell Szécsi is also a member of the current U20 World Championship team. He is not the only one, as last year’s winners included four other members of the current world champion team in water polo: Viktor Gyapjas, Vince Varga, Péter Szalai, and Ákos Nagy.
As a sign that the national team is the quality of its squad, it should be mentioned that Total Waterpolo magazine selected the best players of the Bucharest Waterpolo World Championship. The ranking is based solely on their statistics, and Hungarians can be proud of the fact that
three of their water polo players, Zsombor Gyapjas, Ákos Nagy, and Vince Vigvári, were among the seven best players of the World Championship.
Moreover, Vince Vigvári was elected MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the World Championship, which is no wonder considering that the 19-year-old left winger scored 15 goals, dished out 21 assists, had possession of the ball four times, was fouled nine times, and had one successful block. Viktor Gyapjas was also quite rightly voted the best goalkeeper of the World Cup with 53.8 goals and 49 saves.
Furthermore, the Hungarian team not only won the World Cup, but also went undefeated and played with great dominance throughout. With the exception of the semi-final against the USA, they had practically nothing to fear in any of the games. In the final against Serbia, after a 4-4 draw in the first quarter, the Hungarian team went 16 minutes without conceding a goal, but then scored seven goals in a row.
This great victory made it clear that the Hungarian team is the best in the world in this age group.
The junior team ought to be highlighted as well, because last year not only Hungary’s U18, but also the U16 won the World Championship, so Hungary is among the world’s best in each generation.
Another argument in favor of the World Cup winning team being the new golden generation is the fact that these players have been playing together for a long time, because as mentioned earlier, several of them were members of the U18 World Cup winning team in the spring, and this relationship between the players is an irreplaceable bond – it’s no coincidence that several of them have described the friendship as one of the foundations of the team’s success.