Perica Bukic (YUG/CRO)
Honor Water Polo (2008)
FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: silver; 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1985, 1987, 1989 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver
Water polo is the dominant national team sport of Croatia and no Croatian player has ever been more dominant than this highly decorated player from Club Mladost in Zagreb. When his country was still part of Yugoslavia, Perica “Pero” Bukic began playing water polo at age 13 for Club Solaris Shibenik where he learned the skills which, with his intense style of play, were to form him into one of the world’s greatest players.
In 1984, he played on Yugoslavia’s gold medal winning Olympic team and repeated his Olympic gold medal success in 1988 in Seoul, becoming only the third country to win back-toback Olympic gold medals in the sport. His Hall of Fame Coach, Ratko Rudic, called him the most versatile player he had ever coached.
Bukic won nine of 15 national championships while playing for Club Mladost along with four European champions cups. In 1996, with Bukic as team captain, Croatia won its first ever Olympic water polo medal finishing with a silver behind a charismatic team from Spain. All told, Bukic led his teams to gold medals at two world championships and FINA World Cups, and silver medals at three European championships and a FINA World Cup.
Retired as a player, Bukic became the president of the Croatian Water Polo Federation, hired back his former coach, Rudic, and helped re-establish a floundering Croatian water polo team to the gold medal at the 2007 Melbourne World Championships. He continues to lead and inspire.