Last Updated: July 26, 2011 8:44pm
Men's water polo has been at the Olympic games for over a century, although the women's event is a relatively new addition having been introduced in Sydney 2000. Men's water polo was first played during the 1900 Paris Olympics and has been contested at all Games since 1908.
Women's water polo was one of the new events at the Sydney 2000 Games, adding another dimension to a game long ranked among the most demanding. Prohibited from touching the bottom or side of the pool through four seven-minute quarters, water polo players swim up to five kilometres (3.1miles) in a game.
Water Polo players require the technique and endurance of a champion swimmer, plus a football player's finesse in passing, dribbling and shooting for goal and a rugby player's strength to battle for the ball.
In fact, water polo began as an aquatic version of rugby in the mid-1800s in England, before evolving into a waterborne semblance of football. By the turn of the century, it had become so popular in Europe and North America that it was included in the programme for the 1900 Olympic Games.Tall, long-armed athletes are the prototype for the game, where 85 per cent of the body is submerged. About the same underwater percentage holds true for the grabbing, holding, kicking, wrestling and yanking of swimsuits that makes the game even tougher.
The history of water polo as a team sport began in late 19th century England and Scotland, where water sports were a feature of county fairs and festivals.
The rules of water polo were originally developed in the late nineteenth century in Great Britain by William Wilson. The modern game originated as a form of rugby football played in rivers and lakes in England and Scotland with a ball constructed of Indian rubber.
This "water rugby" came to be called "water polo" based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu. Early play allowed brute strength, wrestling and holding opposing players underwater to recover the ball; the goalie stood outside the playing area and defended the goal by jumping in on any opponent attempting to score by placing the ball on the deck.
By the 1880s, the game evolved that stressed swimming, passing, and scoring by shooting into a goal net; players could only be tackled when holding the ball and could not be taken under water.
To deal with constant changes in rules, in 1888, the London Water Polo League was founded and approved rules to allow team competition, forming the foundation of the present game. The first English championships were played in 1888.
Over the years, both technical and rule changes affected the character of the game. In 1928, Hungarian water polo coach Bela Komjadi invented the "air pass," or "dry pass", a technique in which a player directly passes the ball through the air to another player, who receives it without the ball hitting the water.
Previously, players would let the ball drop in the water first and then reach out for it, but the dry pass made the offensive game more dynamic, and contributed to Hungarian dominance of water polo for 60 years.
Craig Figes: Great Britain's men's team will be led by Bristolian Figes, the most gifted British player in a generation, at 2012 in London. Figes left his job as a geography teacher at Manchester Grammar School at the end of the academic year to focus full-time on training and competition and hopes to win a contract abroad, having previously played in Australia and Spain.
Fran Leighton: Fran's family have had a strong influence on her athlete career, with her brother, dad and sister all being involved with the GB Water Polo programme. Fran competed in her first Senior international meet in the 1999 European A qualification tournament in Nice. Fran has won a Commonwealth bronze medal and was also part of the gold medal winning British team at the 2009 LEN European B Nations Trophy held in Manchester. Fran is determined to continue this success and be part of the winning 2012 Olympic Team.
Adam Schofield: The Leeds-born star has been a member of GB's Water Polo squad since 2000. He was inspired to take up the sport after watching his sisters play. He helped the nation finish fourth at the LEN European Nations Trophy in 2009.
Craig Figes will lead the GB team in 2012
Aleksandar Sapic. Retired Serbian international Sapic is considered to be one of the sport's greatest. At the last three Olympic Games he won a bronze medal in Beijing 2008, a silver medal in Athens 2004 and a bronze from Sydney 2000. Sapic started playing water polo at the age of 8. In his first year at VK Partizan he made his senior debut at only 13 years of age. He was the leading goal scorer in the 2000 Olympic Games with 18 goals. In total he played 385 official matches for the national team, scoring a record 981 goals in the process.
Manuel Estiarte. The title of Greatest Water Polo Player of All Time is usually granted to the Spaniard. Only 5'10 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 six 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). 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 that Spain lost to Yugoslavia.
Tibor Benedek is a Hungarian water polo player, who played in the gold medal squads at the 2000 Summer Olympics, 2004 Summer Olympics and 2008 Summer Olympics. Benedek also competed at the 1996 Summer Olympics, where the Hungarian team was placed 4th. Benedek was named Hungarian Water Polo Player of the Year in 1992, 1993 and 1994. He made his debut for the national side in 1990. His father, Miklos Benedek, is a famous actor.
Quite simply the Hungarians are the world's best in the sport. Water Polo is the nation's favourite sport only to football.
They have been victorious 15 times in the Olympics (including Gold medals in the last three Games) and also have nine World Championships, five World Leagues, 11 World Cups, and 23 European Championships to their name.
The Hungarians are regarded at the best shooters in the world and were also involved in the most violent game of water polo in history, The "Blood in the Water" match. The match between Hungary and the USSR took place at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Officials ended the game before time expired when a Soviet player sucker-punched Ervin Zador, actions that prompted Irate Hungarian fans to spill out of the stands and crowd around the pool deck, haranguing and threatening the Russian players.
Between 1928 and 1980, Hungary never failed to win a medal at the Olympics, and took home 6 of 10 possible gold medals between 1932 and 1976.
Despite the fact that Hungary did not compete in 1984, a team from that country did win one Olympic bronze medal between 1980 and 1996. In 2000, Hungary returned to win its 7th water polo gold medal.
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.
Egg Beater - Egg beater allows players to expend minimum energy but still allows players to jump and move about easily in the pool when they are not swimming.
Before the game, the referees shall ensure that the field of play, game equipment, suits and caps comply with the rules, make any corrections possible at that time, and report any deficiencies to the administrator in charge
For pools with floating goals, for games played by men, the length of the course from goal line to goal line must not exceed 30 meters [100 feet] nor be less than 22.9 meters [75 feet].
For games played by women, the length of the course from goal line to goal line must not exceed 25 meters [82 feet] nor be less than 22.9 meters [75 feet].
It is recommended that the water temperature be maintained between 78 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit (25.6 and 27.2 degrees Celsius).
A red mark shall be placed at each end of the field of play on the boundary line, 2 meters from the corner of the field of play on the side opposite the score table, to denote the re-entry area.
The team benches shall both be situated on the side opposite the score table, unless permanent structural facility restrictions prevent such location. The team bench shall be located at the corner behind the goal line.
The use of a megaphone or other artificial communication device, or whistling (artificial or natural), by a coach to communicate with the team during play is prohibited.
DOB: 17/5/1956 Event: Boxing Medals: 1 gold Flag: USA
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