Hungarian Conservative

Hungary Men’s Water Polo Team Wins 4th World Championship Title, Ties Italy On Top of All-Time List

Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI
Meanwhile, the Hungarian women’s sabre team also won a gold medal of their own at the FIE Fencing World Championships. Hungary tends to overperform in sports compared to its population size consistently.

The Hungarian men’s water polo national team defeated Greece in the final for the world championship title at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in Fukuoka, Japan. The match ended in a 10–10 tie, with Greece having the last shot to try and secure victory seconds before the end. The game proceeded to a penalty shootout, which Hungary ended up winning 4–3.

This is Hungary’s fourth water polo world championship title—their first victory came at the very first FINA Championship in Belgrade, Yugoslavia; while their second and third titles were captured exactly one and two decades ago, respectively. Our boys won in 2013 and in 2003, in Barcelona, Spain both times.

This latest triumph for our men’s water polo team comes after a disappointing showing in the same competition last year, having finished only 7th on their home turf in Budapest, Hungary. Head coach Tamás Märcz was let go after the underwhelming performance. Zsolt Varga, who was initially also coaching the club side Ferencváros, took over the leadership of the national team.

Within a year, he took Hungary’s water polo team from 7th place to world championship victory.

This is what he had to say about his great triumph to the Hungarian sports daily Nemzeti Sport in an interview:

‘We were able to come back from very difficult moments, and we could score important goals. This evidently required the individual skills and the inner strength the players approached this World Championship with. I believe this is how you win a competition like this.’

As we wrote above, this was Hungary’s fourth world championship title in men’s water polo. This puts us currently on top of the all-time WC title list, tied with Italy with four victories, and ahead of Spain with three.

This is an even more impressive fact if we take into account the population sizes of these two other nations (currently 59 million for Italy and 47.5 million for Spain; while Hungary has 9.9 million).

And water polo is not even the only sport where Hungary is delivering outstanding results lately! Only a day after the men’s team’s water polo victory,

the Hungarian women’s sabre team beat France in the final at the 2023 FIE Fencing World Championships in Milan, Italy,

securing another gold medal in another high-profile global sports competition for the country. The team managed to win the World Championship in their discipline twice in back-to-back years. The line-up of the winning team is Anna Márton, Luca Szűcs, Liza Pusztai, and Katinka Battai Sugár.

The Hungarian women’s sabre team celebrating their World Championship victory over France. PHOTO: Tibor Illyés/MTI

Hungary Constantly Overperforms In Sports

On the all-time medal table for the Summer Olympic Games, Hungary is currently in the 8th spot with 181 gold medals won over the years. It is interesting to note, however, that the closest country in population to us among the seven countries currently outranking us is the aforementioned Italy with its 59 million people. Meanwhile, we are directly ahead of Japan (population size: 126 million), and two spots ahead of Australia (26 million).

Among the top ten countries in the all-time medals table, we are the only ones never to have hosted the Summer Olympic Games. In fact, the second highest ranked nation that never had a host city before is Romania at 17th place (15th if you do not count the Soviet Union and Russia’s, and Germany and East Germany’s medals separately), having won 90 gold medals. Zsolt Gyulay, the head of the Hungarian Olympic Committee has stated previously that the Budapest Olympics is ‘still on the table’.

Also, President Katalin Novák met International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach in Lausanne, Switzerland back in June. The two only discussed preparations for the 2024 Paris Games, and no official bid for hosting has been made by any Hungarian city or town. However, Bach made commendatory remarks about the past sporting events Hungary has hosted recently at the press conference following the meeting.

IOC President Thomas Bach: ‘Hungary Could Be a Magnificent Host Nation’

Historically, Hungary is also among the elite nations when it comes to the most popular sport in the world, football. Only 13 nations made it to the FIFA World Cup final (out of the 211 current members of FIFA), and Hungary is one of them, having done so twice. However, we are also among the five that have played a final but never won (along with Czechoslovakia, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Croatia).

Hungary also played its last World Cup final in 1954 (suffering a 3–2 upset defeat to West Germany), and have not even qualified for the tournament since 1986. With the recent good performances by the National Team, and the number of teams in the competition being raised to 48, there is a good chance that can change by the next World Cup in 2026.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian women’s sabre team also won a gold medal of their own at the FIE Fencing World Championships. Hungary tends to overperform in sports compared to its population size consistently.