Fans flocking to the Alfred Hajos National Swimming Stadium on Margaret Island can see the Tibor Benedek memorial outside the venue where fans and players have paid their tributes to one of the greatest water polo players to ever live.
Tibor Benedek was one of the faces of the Hungarian men’s water polo team that won an unprecedented three straight gold medals from 2000 - 2008 before his retirement from the sport in 2012.
Benedek passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer on 18 June 2020 at age 47, but his legacy is still felt today.
In a 2020 poll, Benedek was voted by 40 water polo experts and over 50,000 fans as the greatest men’s water polo player of all-time. And nearly two years to the day after Benedek’s death, it was announced at the opening press conference to the FINA World Championships in Budapest that the “Player of the Match” award will be named after Benedek.
The announcement, made by Tamas Molnar, who was also a member of the three Olympic gold medal teams alongside Benedek, has given a tremendous honour to those in the tournament.
“On the initiative of the president Kyriakos Giannopoulos, the athletes of the national team paid tribute to one of the greatest athletes in the history of water polo, the legend Tibor Benedek!” Greek men’s captain Ioannis Fountoulis said. “His quality as a man and his huge achievements as an athlete and coach will be remembered forever.”
“We paid tribute to a human symbol of our sport,” Greek women’s captain Margarita Plevritou said. “Those of us who had the honor to admire him so much as a coach but as a player too we have the memory of how unique he was. Ηis memory lives on in all of us.”
In addition to three Olympic gold medals, Benedek won a gold medal at the 2003 World Championships, and also won two silvers in 1998 and 2007, and a bronze in 1991. He was also the head coach for the Hungarian national team from 2013 - 2016, and was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2016 as a member of the Hungarian men’s water polo team that won three straight Olympic gold medals.