Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008

50. Tibor Benedek

Water Polo
Age: 36

"When I was 20," says Benedek, "Journalists would ask me what I would do when I retire from waterpolo. For me this is not just a five- or ten-year-period in my life. This is life itself." And if you play water polo for the perennial rulers of the pool, life can be good. Hungary will be defending back-to-back gold medals in men's waterpolo this year, and figures to be a difficult team to keep off the podium. But its performance of late has not been gold medal variety. Montenegro won the European championship this year, followed by Serbia and Hungary, and those two will be punching for Olympic gold in this roughhouse sport. Benedek, the son and grandson of wellknown Hungarian actors, stars in a different drama. "Waterpolo is my life," he says. "Our relationship is that of predetermination I'll never be better at anything than waterpolo and that is why it is my duty to pursue this sport as long as I can, and to the best of my abilities." Just don't put any pressure on yourself.