Ratko Rudic (YUG/ITA/USA/CRO)
2007 Honor Water Polo Coach
FOR THE RECORD: 1980 OLYMPIC GAMES: silver (player, YUG); 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (coach, YUG); 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (coach, YUG); 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (coach, ITA); 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: bronze (coach, ITA); 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES: (coach, ITA); 1973 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: bronze (player, YUG); 1986 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (coach, YUG); 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: gold (coach, ITA); 1970 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: bronze (player, YUG); 1974 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: bronze (player, YUG); 1977 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: silver (player, YUG); 1985 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: silver (coach, YUG); 1987 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: silver (coach, YUG); 1995 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: gold (coach, ITA); 1999 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP: bronze (coach, ITA); 1987 FINA WORLD CUP: gold (coach, YUG); 1993 FINA WORLD CUP: gold (coach, ITA); 1999 FINA WORLD CUP: silver (coach, ITA); 2003 FINA WORLD LEAGUE: bronze (coach, USA); 2003 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: gold (coach, USA).
Ratko Rudic is regarded as one of the best, if not the best, water polo coach to walk the deck of the pool. In an ongoing career which now spans five Olympic Games, Rudic-coached teams have won three Olympic gold and a bronze medal. With his identifiable burly mustache and his animated coaching mannerisms on the pool deck, he has coached in four countries, Yugoslavia, Italy, United States and Croatia and developed teams and players who have excelled in international play.
As a player in his native Yugoslavia, he played 297 times for the National Team winning European Championship bronze (1974, 1974) and silver medals (1977) and a World Championship bronze medal (1973). He was the team's leading scorer. A member of the 1968 and 1976 Olympic Teams but unable to play due to injuries, he helped his team win the silver medal at the 1980 Games in Moscow. His Partizan Club was eight times national champions and two times Europe's top team (1974, 1975).
In 1981, he took the play book in hand and became the coach of the Yugoslav Junior National Team which won silver medals in World Championship and European junior world play. His young players Bukic, Milanovic, Sostar, Simenc, Vicevic and others later formed the core of the National Team during its golden period from 1984 to 1991. Rudic became the Head Coach and met with unprecedented success winning the gold medal at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and everything in between including World Championships and World Cups.
In the late 1980's, he took the helm of the Italian National Team and during a ten year period conquered the Grand Slam of water polo winning the four most important consecutive competitions: gold medals at the 1992 Olympic Games, 1994 World Championships, 1993 and 1995 European Championships and 1993 FINA World Cup. Following the Sydney Olympics of 2000, he received the Head Coaching position of the USA Men's National Team where he developed the Strategic Project Gold Plan to take the US team through the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But in 2005, the President of Croatia called. “We need you to come home,” he said. And Ratko has delivered. After finishing ninth at the 2004 Olympic Games, Croatia finished atop the podium at the 2007 FINA World Championships, proving he is still master of the game.