Water Polo Legend Mirco Sandic Passes Away (1942 – 2006)
Yugoslavian water polo legend Mirco Sandic, 64, passed away suddenly on Sunday, December 24, 2006. He was 64 years old.
Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) on May 9, 1942, Mirko Sandic played water polo during the years when his country was a dominant international team. Wearing number 10 and being the tallest and biggest player, Sandic was considered to be the most prominent player contributing to his country’s 1968 Olympic gold medal performance of Mexico City and the 1964 Olympic silver medal of Tokyo.
From the land of Hall of Famer and FINA President Ante Lambasa, Sandic learned to swim at age 4 but it was not until age 16 that he began playing water polo for club Partizan, a member of the second division of the Yugoslav Water Polo League. As a member of this club until his retirement in 1974, Mirko played in over 1000 games and won 11 Yugoslav National Championships, 7 Yugoslav Cups, 5 European Club Championships and several Friendship Tournaments.
Following his retirement as a player, Sandic worked for Yugoslavian Airlines which led to stints as water polo coach of National Teams in Singapore, Malaysia and Egypt.
In 1972, he received the Presidential Medal of Honor from J.B. Tito, the Best Sportsman of Belgrade from the Lord Mayor, the 1971 Sportsman of the Year, and the 1997 Statue of the International Olympic Committee for achievement in the Olympic movement. He also served variously as the President of the Yugoslav Water Polo, a member of the Yugoslavian Olympic Committee and as a member of the LEN Technical Water Polo Committee. (1998 – present). Sandic was elected to membership into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1999.
Mirco Sandic stood as a giant in the world of water polo and the Olympic movement. His personality and contributions to the sport of water polo around the world will be surely missed.