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György Kárpáti and Tibor Benedek

Hungary Mourns Two Water Polo Legends

D&T
June 18, 2020

Two legendary Hungarian water polo players, Dr. György Kárpáti and Tibor Benedek – both of them three times Olympic champions – passed away within 24 hours in Budapest.

Athlete of the Nation György Kárpáti died in the 85th year of his life this Wednesday. He was born in 1935 in Budapest. At the age of ten, he became a swimmer and then a water polo player in local club Ferencváros where he spent his entire career. He was selected for the national team for the first time in 1952, in that year he was a member of the Olympic champion team, making him the youngest Hungarian water polo player to win an Olympic title. He won two more Olympic golds in 1956 and 1964 as well as an Olympic bronze in 1960. He was a three-time European champion and a five-time Hungarian champion, but even in his original sport, swimming, he won four Hungarian championship titles.

“At dawn today, Tibor Benedek, the three-time Olympic, world and European champion in water polo, closed his eyes forever,” says a statement on the Hungarian Water Polo Federation. Tibor Benedek was born on July 12, 1972 in Budapest. At the age of five, his mother took her to swimming lessons because of his spinal problems. He started playing water polo at the Central Sports School, and between 1989 and 1996 he competed in the Újpest team. He then played in Italy, first for Assitalia Roma and then for Pro Recco in Liguria province. Continuing his career, between 2004 and 2007 he played again in Hungary, in Budapest Honvéd before returning to Pro Recco, where he played until his retirement in 2012. He won the LEN Cup, the Super Cup and the Champions Cup with Újpest, the Champions League with Pro Recco and then the Euroleague, and he was Hungarian and Italian champion several times. From early 2013, he was the manager of the Hungarian national team for almost four years, winning the world title in 2013. He was first diagnosed with heart problems in 2004.

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