Andras Bodnar (HUN)
2017 Honor Water Polo Player
FOR THE RECORD: 1960 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze; 1964 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1968 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze; 1972 OLYMPIC GAMES: silver
Hungary is a land of thermal springs and although landlocked, swimming and water sports are ingrained in their culture. This love of water led to an early domination of international swimming and diving competitions in the late 19th and early 20th century. In the 1920s, it was water polo that came to symbolize Hungary’s unique strengths and individuality.
Andras Bodnar was born on April 9, 1942 in Ungvar, Hungary, a town that today is known as Uzhgorod, in the Ukraine. In 1952, he began swimming and playing water polo for various clubs in Eger until 1962, when he joined the team of the Budapest University Medical Association. In addition to being an outstanding water polo player, he was also one of Hungary’s top middle distance swimmers and qualified for the 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games in both sports.
Although he did not make the finals in swimming, he did win the bronze medal in Rome and the gold medal in Tokyo as a member of Hungary’s water polo team. After 1964, the academic demands of medical school limited him to one sport. He was a member of Hungary’s water polo team that won the Olympic silver medal at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, and again at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. In 1973, his team won the gold at the first FINA World Aquatic Championships in Belgrade. Between 1960 and 1976, he played for the Hungarian National Team in 186 international games. At the same time he was pursuing his medical career.
In 1968, Bodnar earned his medical degree from the Budapest Semmelweis Medical University, where he was an Assistant Professor of Surgery until 1985, when he became Head of Surgery at Frigyes Koranyi Hospital and later National Public Health and Medical Office Supervisor. A man of incredible energy and dedication to his sport, he served as Vice President of the Hungarian Swimming Federation, water polo division from 1981 to 1989, and as president of the newly formed Hungarian Water Polo Federation from 1989 to 1992. Since 1990, he has been a member of LEN (European Swimming Federation Medical Committee) and since 2004 a member of the Francis Field Foundation Board of Trustees.
In a swimming and water polo career spanning almost two decades, in which he won four Olympic medals (one gold, two silver, one bronze), the inaugural World Championship gold, two European Championships and seven Hungarian Championships, Dr. Andras Bodnar goes down in history as one of the greatest players of all time and the twentieth player from Hungary to be so honored.