FINA in mourning - Water polo legend Dezso Gyarmati passed away

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Dezso GyarmatiLegendary water polo player and coach Dezso Gyarmati has died at the age of 86. One of the best players the game ever seen and in fact the most decorated in history. Till date he is the only player who earned five Olympic medals during his magnificent career: three of them were gold (1952, 1956, 1964), one silver (1948) and one bronze (1960).

The left-handed genius could play in all positions of the field. Known for his fearless approach in every game, he was able to decide the biggest clashes single-handedly. Gyarmati was the protagonist of water polo’s probably most famous match, the clash between Hungary and the USSR at the 1956 Olympics. Though remembered as the ‘Blood bath of Melbourne’ after the scenes of the dying minutes, it was team captain Gyarmati who opened the scoring and set up the other three goals Hungary netted while winning 4-0 en route to the title.

After earning five Olympic medals Gyarmati began a coaching career almost as successful. He added three more Olympic medals to his magnificent tally as the coach of the Hungarian national team: a gold (1976), a silver (1972) and a bronze (1980). He led the Magyars to win the inaugural FINA World Championship’s title in 1973 and they were runners-up in 1975 and in 1978. Also, the first edition of the FINA World Cup in 1979 went to the Hungarians, coached by Gyarmati.

In the eighties he coached Hungarian clubs to a series of medals in the national league. After the communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, Gyarmati started to work for the new government in the nineties, he became an MP in the first democratic national assembly and he did a tremendous job to find funds for the Hungarian sport. Later he received the highest honours of the republic.

Even after his 75th birthday he was an active member of the national water polo federation’s executive board, he managed to publish a series of books on the sport, one of them was the complete history of the Hungarian water polo.

Even if his health was broken, he still attended the national team’s last home match before this year’s FINA World Championships. He could see the Magyars’ triumph in Barcelona from his hospital bed before his long lasting illness took him away. A fitting end of a legendary life: he took the scenes of Hungary’s winning with himself to his eternal journey.

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