“It will be very hard to outshine Budapest”, said Mohamed Diop, the Supervisor of FINA Bureau’s Masters Committee at the closing ceremony of the 2017 FINA World Masters Championships. This marks the end of a phenomenal month for Budapest and Balatonfüred when the two cities turned into the home and capital of water sports.
The World Masters Championships started on the 7th of August, one week after the FINA World Championships had ended, and finished on the 20th of August. The two weeks were quite eventful as one-time professional swimmers took turns in the water and impressed the whole world with their persistence, still amazing physique and zest for life.
According to masters.fina-budapest2017.com, the history of the master events started a few decades ago. After initiations from several organisations, the newly elected FINA President Robert Helmick proposed to the Bureau in 1984 that the international federation take Masters under its wing. The preparation processes started and special rules were drawn up so that Masters could join the FINA family and events, and the members of a Masters Committee were appointed.
The first championships were held in Tokyo in 1986, under the rules of FINA. Swimming remained the only sport at the event until 1990, since then, all five disciplines form parts of the show. According to the format introduced in 2015, the FINA World Masters Championships has to be held alongside the main event, as its integral part.
The events of the Masters Championships took place at four competition venues: three in Budapest, and one in Balatonfüred for the open water swimming races. Similarly to the elite competitions, the main venues were the Danube Aquatics Arena (swimming, diving), the Alfréd Hajós Complex (water polo) and the City Park (synchronised swimming).
The minimum age limit at the championships was 25 in most disciplines (except for water polo – 30), which is determined by the actual age of the competitor as of December 31st of the year of the competitions. The participants were listed in five-year age groups as high as is necessary.
As we reported, several records were broken by amazing athletes, who still find joy in sport and know no age limits. The oldest male athlete at the championships was the 97-year-old Hungarian veteran, Béla Bánki Horváth, while the oldest female participant was the 96-year-old American Emilie Kornfeld. She was the only one who entered the 800 m freestyle event in the 95-99 age group, and managed to set a new world record with an amazing performance.
All in all, more than ten thousand athletes participated at the World Masters Championships. More than four thousand swimmers were present in the Danube Arena for the relay events just on Friday. Team Hungary did very well, they collected 121 medals: 42 gold, 44 silver and 35 bronze.
The biggest sensation for Hungarians was certainly the victory of the Millennium 40+ water polo team, which was made up of former Olympic Champions. It was a real privilege to see the legends reunite and play gracefully. Just like before, no one could come close to them, they simply dominated the field. Tibor Benedek believes that friendship and love were the key ingredients of the victory.
Hungarians also dominated the 30+ category in women’s water polo, with excellent athletes from the 1994 World Champion team. Besides these two outstanding victories, Hungary won seven more medals in water polo.
Hungarian divers are also worth mentioning, because they competed outstandingly well. They won 19 medals (8 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze). Our open water swimmers collected four medals, while the crowd could rejoice at the success of the Hungarian synchronised swimmers seven times. A curiosity is that some members of the Organising Committee also participated in certain events. For instance, Levente Nagy-Pál won a bronze medal in open water swimming.
Swimming events were the most popular among Hungarian Masters athletes, which is reflected in the number of medals: they won 83 medals, 66 in individual events and 17 in relay events. Furthermore, the most successful Hungarian athlete of the championships was Valter Kalaus, who won three gold and three silver medals, plus a fourth place.
To sum up, the 2017 FINA Masters World Championships ran its course perfectly. Budapest and Balatonfüred welcomed phenomenal athletes who know no limits. The FINA leaders called it the best Masters event ever, hopefully, the athletes agree with this statement 🙂
Featured image: MTI
Source: Daily News Hungary/ www.masters.fina-budapest2017.com