Bela Komjadi (HUN)
Honor Water Polo (1995)
FOR THE RECORD: Father of Hungarian water polo; established the educational and organizational system which led to Hungary’s dominance of water polo.
Known as “Uncle Komi” to his countrymen, Bela Komjadi was the wonderful master of Hungarian Water Polo. He was a born trainer who knew and understood everything about water polo. He was considered to be an unselfish, hard working man ready to do anything for his players. From his birth in 1892, Komjadi was all water polo. In 1928, Komjadi’s leadership ignited Hungary’s appetite for Olympic water polo medals which they won at every Game through 1980.
When the game was introduced in Hungary in 1897, a goal was usually scored by touching the goal with the ball in hand. Komjadi invented the “air pass,” the technique in which the player smoothly and directly passes the ball through the air to another player or into the opponent’s net. This led to his development of the “air stop,” the technique of another player receiving an air pass without the ball hitting the water. Before his innovation, even the best players would let the ball drop in the water first and then reach out for it.
Komjadi helped Hungary form the non-medaling Olympic teams of 1912 and 1924, and the European Championship teams of 1926, 1927, and 1931, all of which won gold medals.
At the age of only 41, Komjadi died in 1933, while playing water polo. His drive, dedication, techniques and respect were all carried on by his unofficially adopted son, Bela Rashel, who became Hungary’s great water polo coach, author, historian, scientist and contributor, aiding in Hungary’s triumphant Olympic tradition of winning the gold – fourteen from the last fifteen Olympic Games, a span of 64 years.