In the 31st episode of the Total Waterpolo podcast, our guest was Tamas Molnar.
Join us as we talk with the three-time Olympic champion and TWPC chairman, Dr Tamas Molnar. In the first part of the podcast, Molnar discusses his hugely successful water polo career; the Olympic medals and his time playing abroad. Then, we discuss Tamas’ new role as the TWPC chair, what that role means, and what we can expect in terms of the future direction of our sport. Don’t miss out on the action-packed conversation, available for streaming on YouTube or through all major podcast platforms.
Molnar recounted his journey of securing the second Olympic gold medal in Athens, offering a deeply personal glimpse into how it resonated within him and influenced his sons:
It’s a really nice feeling when I have to speak about this. First of all, the first one fulfilled a dream. If I were to say which was the most important, the first one was the most important. The second one is completely unique; we played in Athens, the birthplace of the Olympic Games in Greece. We had an amazing tournament, winning all of our games in a very difficult group. We won the final from a hopeless situation against Serbia & Montenegro. We played a crazy last quarter, which I think is legendary in the history of water polo. And the last one is special because my twin boys were born in 2005, and they were three years old, and I think they could already understand what was going on. They at least witnessed something important from my career.
Molnar openly shared his thought process on concluding his career and embracing retirement. He expressed his desire to avoid engaging in battles with ambitious newcomers, who he referred to as hungry lions, and instead make room for younger, more talented players to take the stage:
I believe I took my time, and I achieved everything I could. When you have three Olympic golds, you approach things a bit differently. We had really talented upcoming centre-forwards with a lot of motivation. I didn’t want to take their place just because of my reputation. I didn’t want to compete with the young, more hungry lions.
Molnar described his way into refereeing, shedding light on the intriguing path that led him to make that pivotal decision:
I started refereeing because I wanted to be in this position. That was the first step. I wanted to learn water polo from the other side as well. Referees were always criticised, and I wanted not to criticise but to show how it should be done.
The talk continued with a story about refereeing:
From my side, even if you were a top player, it’s not a shame to be a referee. It’s a completely different role, and even the best experts know what should be called. But when you are there, and the whistle is in your mouth and the responsibility is yours, you have a tenth of a second to decide a 50/50 situation. This is difficult.
Tamas delivered a critique regarding the dynamics of major international competitions, emphasising the critical need for participants to establish a shared language:
About the Euros and then the World Champs, it has never happened before, and we hope it will never happen again. But we have to deal with what we have. We have to find a balance between the interests of the clubs, national teams, continents, international federations, and world aquatics to create the best outcome that is acceptable for everybody. It cannot be good; it can be acceptable!
Concluding our talk, Molnar passionately asserted the imperative for unity and collaborative efforts within the water polo community. He emphasised the need to collectively strive towards finding innovative solutions to propel the sport forward.
I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe it. Of course, we have to work a lot, analyse, and listen to people not only in water polo. Because as you can see, some ball sports, like handball, for example, which was very close to water polo 20 years ago, are now far ahead of us. It’s a good example that it can be done, and we have to do it.