On this page we present you remarkable facts and fun facts about the most beautiful sport in the world: Water Polo.
The most famous (infamous?) water polo game in history is without doubt the game between Hungary and the Soviet Union on the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.
Just after the Hungarian delegation left for the Olympics, the Hungarian Revolution started. The Soviet Union occupied the country with 200.000 soldiers to suppress the uprising.
Faith decided that the Hungarian and the Soviet teams played each other in the semi finals. What followed was the most brutal and bloodiest game in water polo history. The Swedish referee had to call off the game at a 4-0 score in favour of Hungary, because angry Hungarian supporters were about to join in with the fights in the pool after a Russian player punched Hungarian player Ervin Zador in the eye (picture).
The Russian team had to be escorted from the swimming pool by the police.
Hungary eventually went on to win the gold medal, the Russian team won bronze.
After the games, half the Hungarian delegation defected to the West.
The origin of water polo is not very well known. In the 18th century there already was a kind of water polo in Holland. It literally was 'polo in the water' as the game was played on horse backs in the sea. Later a similar game was played on wooden barrels in the water.
Water Polo as we know it know has it's origin in the 19th century in Great-Brittan. Originally it was a very brutal sport in which it was not uncommon that unconscious players were floating around in the pool.
The first official game was held in 1877 in the river Dee.
The first women's game was held in the Netherlands in 1906.
In the late 1930's impermeable water polo balls were first introduced.
The Belgian Olympic water polo team has won 4 silver (Paris 1900, London 1908, Antwerp 1920 and Paris 1924) and 2 bronze medals (Stockholm 1912 and Berlin 1936) in early Olympic history.
The longest running water polo competition is the annually held game between the English university teams of Oxford and Cambridge. The game has been played since 1891.
Water polo was the first team sport on the Olympic Games. The Olympic water polo tournament was held for the first time on the 1900 Olympics in Paris. Great Britain won the finals against the Belgian team.
On the 1904 Games in Saint Louis, only teams from the USA played. The European countries did not accept the American variant of the game and the poor condition of the pool. The US would only accept the international water polo rules in 1912.
Record holder in number of gold medals is the Hungarian team. They won no less than 8 gold medals in Olympic history (in 1932, 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1976, 2000 and 2004). Great-Britain is ranked second with 4 victories (1900, 1908, 1912 and 1920). Yugoslavia (1968, 1984 and 1988) and Italy (1948, 1960 and 1992) each won 3 gold medals.
Until now only European countries have won the games, with the exception of 1904 Olympics, which are no longer taken into the official statistics.
Only on the 2000 Games (100 years after the men's competition) the women's water polo tournament was held for the first time, after protest of the Australian women's team, who would eventually keep the gold medal in Sydney.
The title of Greatest Water Polo Player of All Time is usually granted to the Spaniard Manuel Estiarte (°1961).
Only 1m78 tall and 62 kg heavy, Estiarte played more than 600 times on the Spanish national team. He holds the record of most Olympic Games in water polo with participations on 6 Olympic Games. He led the Spanish team to Olympic silver in Barcelona (1992) and gold in Atlanta (1996) and was top scorer on 4 consecutive Olympic events (1980, 84, 88, 92).
In 1998 he led Spain to win the world championships in Perth.
Manuel Estiarte played his last official game at the age of 39. It was the game for bronze medal on the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. A game Spain lost to Yugoslavia.
He ended his career scoring nearly 2.000 goals with an all time record of 127 goals on Olympic Games.
At the moment Manuel Estiarte is trainer at his former club Pescara in Italy and is a member of the Spanish Olympic Comity.
Joseph Pletinckx: the first Belgian water polo player that was admitted to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1988 (the second being Gerard Blitz).
Joseph Pletinckx was captain of the Belgian Olympic team on the 4 consecutive Games where Belgium won a medal (1908-silver, 1912-bronze, 1920-silver en 1924-silver; The 1916 Games were cancelled because of WWI). In 1926 he led Belgium to win the European Championships.
He also was a gifted swimmer and won 13 championships.
After 1926 he became a water polo coach
Hungary! They won no less than 15 Olympic medals, of which 9 gold (1932,
1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1976, 2000, 2004 and 2008). They also won 3 gold,
4 silver and 1 bronze medals on the World Championships.
Hungary is a 12 time European Champion and won 5 silver and 2 bronze medals on European Championships.
Water polo is the national game of Hungary and the country brought forth many legendary players. Amongst them Dezso Gyarmati (according to the Hungarians "the greatest player ever"), Tamas Farago ("the Pele of water polo"), Marton Homonnay, Laszlo Sarosi, Jeno Brandy, Gyorgy Karpati, Kalman Markovits, Janos "Jim" Nemeth, Istvan Szivos (Junior and Senior: father and son), Deszo Lemhenyi, the goalie Gyorgy Brody and the one-legged Oliver Halassy, who - in spite of his handicap - was European swimming champion in 1931.
The Hungarian coach Bela Komjadi invented modern water polo and was a great part of these successes. He died at the age of 41... playing a water polo game.
The World Water Polo Championships are held every 2 to 4 years during the World Swimming Championships. The first edition was held in 1976. Italy was the first country to have won the event 3 times (1978, 1994 and 2011). In 2013 Hungary added a third title (after previous wins in 1973 and 2003) to its impressive track record. 3 countries won the event twice: USSR (1975 and 1982), Yugoslavia (1986 and 1991) and Spain (1998 and 2001).
The women competition has been held since 1986. The United States are the only team that won 3 gold medals. The Italian and Hungarian ladies managed to win the championships twice.
This is supposed to be the first postal stamp with water polo as it's subject. It was given out by Luxembourg in 1952 for the Olympic games of Helsinki.
The stamp had a value of 3 Frank.
Below a photograph from a water polo game that was sent as a postcard. In those days it was common practice to send our photographs as postal cards.
Some players can throw a ball at speeds close to 100 km/h!
Obviously this greatly depends on the level of competition and commitment, but a top player swims an average of 2,5 Kilometres during a game, burning 600 calories/hour.
The Rose Bowl is the most prestigious game in American College Football and is held annually on New Year's Day in the Rose Bowl stadium in California. The game is held between 2 teams (usually the champions) from the 2 major American Football competitions of the USA. In 2006 the game was seen by more than 35 million people.
The first Rose Bowl was held in 1902. The following year the tournament was held for water polo! Because of a lack of interest from spectators - only 2.000 people showed up - water polo was replaced by chariot racing. Since 1916 the tournament has been devoted to American football exclusively.
The entire U.S. water polo team in the 1988 Summer Olympics suffered from exercise-induced asthma !
In a 1972 Olympic waterpolo match between Hungary and Italy, eight Hungarian players were suspended in 38 seconds.
January 2004, Viola Hartman Cady Krahn, the world's oldest diver at age 102, was inducted into the International Masters Hall of Fame. She is the only woman to win national titles in swimming, diving and waterpolo. At age 100 she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.