György Kárpáti and Tibor Benedek were both very successful athletes, they took part in numerous European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games, and the Hungarian Anthem has been played many times in their honour. It is a rather interesting fate for them, considering their age difference. György Kárpáti passed away aged 84, whilst Tibor Benedek was only 48. They both died a few days before their upcoming birthdays, leaving an enormous void in the hearts of both their fans and family. (Tibor Benedek would turn 48 on the twelfth of July.)
Two athletes, who were well-known by water polo fans not only in Hungary but abroad as well. When hearing their names, everyone in Europe knew who they were and how well they could play.
György Kárpáti took up swimming aged 10, in 1945 and has also tried water polo, and despite having been a national champion as a swimmer, he chose water polo instead. He won a medal in Helsinki very early in his career as the youngest member of the Hungarian Olympic Team – in 1952, aged 17. Then, the Hungarian Anthem had been played twice in his honour again, one time in Melbourne, in 1956, the other time in Tokyo, in 1964.
The most famous Olympic Medal of the Hungarian Sports History is the gold medal from 1956, where the Hungarian team has beaten the team of the Soviet Union by 4-0 after the Hungarian Revolution of the same year. Kárpáti was famous for playing fast and recognizing the arising opportunities, skills that helped his team win many times. He also tried to hold on in his personal life, he even got a PhD in Law in 1964.
He was always active in sports, first as a coach from 1976 till 1980 in Australia, then as a leader of the water polo team of the FTC.
For the occasion of the 100th jubilee of the FTC, the bust of György Kárpáti was erected in the FTC Sports Centre at the Népliget. He was also admitted into the Club of the Immortal in 1994.
György Kárpáti was born on the 23rd of June, 1935. He passed away on the 17th of June, 2020. We will cherish his memory forever.
Tibor Benedek was first taken to the swimming pool by his mother when he was 5 years old, due to scoliosis. He was born in an artistic family, his father being an actor with a Jászai Mari award, and his grandfather, Tibor Benedek, famous Hungarian actor.
His first successes as an athlete were in 1988 and 1989, when becoming a Junior Champion. He was a member of the National Team of Hungary from 1990. He won the trophy of the most successful player as a young man, earning it with 9 goals in 1991. He became a better player as the time passed, he was awarded the “King of Goals” and the “Water polo Player of the Year” titles in 1992.
He has fought many battles with the Croatian, Serbian, Italian and Spanish national teams. In 1995 he played against his enemy in the Spanish national team, Catalunya, but the Hungarian team ended up losing against the Spanish.
Although the Hungarian national team lost after competing against the Croatian Mladost Zagreb, Benedek was voted “King of Goals” again, for 19 wonderful goals in 1996. He signed a contract with Racing Roma after winning the fourth place in the Olympics in Atlanta.
He played for the 300th time as a member of the national team against the Yugoslavian in 2001. He transferred to the Italian Pro Recco this year.
Benedek, as a left-handed player, helped his team in difficult situations many times with his well-aimed goals. As no one was able to defeat the Hungarian national team, they won in the Olympics three times in a row, in Sydney (2000), in Athens (2004) and Peking (2008).
Studying was also his high priority, he obtained a Coach’s Certificate at the College of Physical Education in Budapest. Later, he studied History at the Péter Pázmány Catholic University, where he graduated in 2006.
He returned to Hungary in 2004 and played in the Domino-BHSE from 2005 until 2007. In 2007, he stopped playing due to health problems. Upon his return, he became team captain and won the silver medal with his team, which was also his 400th game as a member of the national team.
He returned to Pro Recco for two years, with whom he won the Euroleague and the Italian Championship in 2008.
He played a few other years in the Italian team before he retired. He continued as a coach for the Hungarian national team from the 10th of January, 2013 until the 31st of December, 2016. He led his water polo team to victory in the World Championships of Barcelona in 2013.
He was a presidential member of the Water Polo League and president of the New Generation Committee until 2019. Due to his worsening health, he retired from every water polo-related activity.
Tibor Benedek was born on the 12th of July, 1972, in Budapest and his precious life after an outstanding career ended very early, on the 18th of June, 2020.
György Kárpáti and Tibor Benedek are two legends of the history of the Hungarian sport. Their successful career was acknowledged by the water polo community and the Hungarian State with many awards. We will cherish their memory forever.