Host Serbia as the team of 21st century
stories from Belgrade – 1
Belgrade (LEN) The most successful men’s team in the new millennium is the host country. The Serbs (and their predecessors as Yugoslavia and Serbia & Montenegro) won eight from the 15 titles on offer at World and European Championships and earned three silver and two bronze medals in addition. Only at the World’s in 2007 in Melbourne (4th) and 2013 in Barcelona (7th) the team finished outside the Top Three (in fact they missed the semis of any major competitions for the first time since 1999).
Furthermore, at all four Olympic Games since 2000 Serbia got a medal: one silver and three bronze and finally they target the gold in this year in Rio de Janeiro. The last Olympic triumph for the former Yugoslavia came at the Games 1988 in Seoul.
At this years edition of the European Water Polo Championships in Belgrade Serbia can win its sixth gold ever since 1991 in Athens. The former Yugoslavia took part at the Europeans for the first time in 1934 in the German city of Magdeburg and finished 5th.
From 6 to 100 matches since 1926
When the first edition of European Water Polo Championships was played 1926 in Budapest by only four men teams, six matches were contested before host Hungary won the first of its twelve titles. At the 32nd European Water Polo Championships in Belgrade a record high of 100 matches will be staged before all places decided. 56 of them are to be played in the men’s competition and 44 in the women’s tournament. Never before so many matches have been played at the history of the European Championships.
Hungary missed only one edition
Hungary is not only top nation in terms of European titles with twelve gold medals, the water polo powerhouse is also the record-holder in participation at the Europeans. At the 32nd European Water Polo Championships in Belgrade the first winner from 1926 will compete for the 31st time in the men’s championships. The only occasion Hungary was missing from the continental showcase dates back to 1950, when the nation withdrew its entire delegation as revenge after the event had been shifted to Vienna from Budapest for political reasons in the ensuing Cold War (Budapest got back the event for 1958).
Germany as the bronze medallist from the inaugural championships in 1926 missed four editions: 1927 in Bologna, 1947 in Monte Carlo, also 1950 and for the last time 1962 when at the times of the Cold War Leipzig in the German Democratic Republic was the host.
The two other teams participating in the inaugural event in 1926, Sweden as the silver medallist and Belgium as fourth are no longer present at the European Water Polo Championships. Belgium competed for the last time at the top level in 1970 in Barcelona. In the next five editions they played in Group B till 1985 in Sofia which was the last showing-up of Belgium. Sweden’s last participation so far came in 1989 in Bonn (GER).
In the women’s tournament from the eight teams taking part at the inaugural championships in Oslo in 1985 (that was the only time when women had a separate championships), gold medallist Netherlands and runner-up Hungary took part in all 15 editions till today. While host Norway and Belgium were also present at the following championships in Strasbourg 1987 and two years later in Bonn, the Swedish team missed Strasbourg but was back in Bonn also for the last time.
Germany as bronze medallist from Oslo as well as Great Britain and France continued their participation till today, though the Brits are missing from the current championships.