ATHENS, Greece, August 29. HUNGARY retained its place as Olympic champion by beating Serbia and Montenegro 8-7 in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games Water Polo gold medal match on Sunday afternoon as described in official post-tournament announcements from the Athens organizers.
It is the third time that Hungary has won successive Olympic gold medals in the sport, having previously doubled up in 1932 (Los Angeles) and 1936 (Berlin) and again in 1952 (Helsinki) and 1956 (Melbourne).
Water Polo traditionally concludes the team event in the Olympic Games and also has the reputation of the medal matches being spectacular and memorable. Sunday's final was no exception.
The Hungarians, winners at Sydney in 2000, clinched gold after coming back from a two goal deficit in the last period thanks to scores by Tamas KASAS (2) and Gergely KISS.
Serbia and Montenegro opened the match with a three goal burst through Aleksandar CIRIC, Aleksandar SAPIC and Viktor JELENIC, but Hungary maintained its composure and struck back with a double from KISS to finish at 3-2.
The second period saw the Hungarians reverse that scoreline to reach the halfway stage with the match all square at 5-5.
Serbia and Montenegro looked to have done enough to earn itself the gold medal with an excellent third period that saw it score twice without reply to open up a 7-5 lead, but Hungary is not considered the world leader in Water Polo for nothing and they reversed the game in the last seven minutes.
Coach Nenad MANJOLOVIC's (SCG) players seemed to be on a suicide mission as they missed four good chances in a man up situation in the last period as Hungary racked up three goals without reply to finish the match 8-7 winners.
The result gave Hungary its eighth Olympic gold medal in Water Polo and also its eighth gold medal of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.