From fans, friends and coaches to former teammates, thousands of people gathered at Budapest’s Margaret Island late on Thursday to pay their respects to three-time Olympic champion water polo player Tibor Benedek, who died, aged 47, earlier in the day after a long illness.
The memorial at the Alfréd Hajós National Swimming Stadium was organised by the Hungarian Water Polo Association and the Budapest-based water polo club UVSE.
Many placed candles, flowers and photos of Benedek in front of the stadium’s main entrance.
The event was also attended by Tünde Szabó, the state secretary in charge of sports, Attila Vári, the head of the Hungarian Water Polo Association, Pál Schmitt, former Hungarian president who is a member of the International Olympic Committee and the honorary head of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony.
Benedek was a mainstay of Hungary’s Golden Team, which triumphed in the Olympic tournaments of 2000, 2004 and 2008.
He was national coach of the Hungarian men’s water polo team between 2013 and 2016. He was named Hungarian Water Polo Player of the Year in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2002 and in 2000 he was voted into the Hungarian water polo team of the century.