Hubbard's Cupboard: Raddy the Great ruled the water polo waves
The man with incredible tales from past Games
Monday 06 August 2012
Away from the golden glories of the Olympic Stadium, other events are drawing huge crowds, not least water polo.
Tonight the British men take on Montenegro, and fiery waterworks can be guaranteed in a sport where there is as much sploshing as splashing. These days Britain are invariably among the also-swams but once we ruled the Olympic waves.
In London's 1908 Games, the star striker was Francesco "Raddy" Radmilovic, a Welshman, a publican's son of Croatian and Irish origin who won four titles in a 22-year Olympic career, including three in successive Games.
That record stood until broken by Sir Steve Redgrave in 2000. And in 1928, "Raddy" became the first person to compete for Britain at five Olympics, a record that was surpassed only in 1976 by fencer Bill Hoskyns.
Radmilovic made his debut at 15 for the Welsh water polo team in 1901, and was the youngest international player in the history of the sport. He competed for nearly 30 years and was still an active swimmer well into his seventies. He was also a competent golfer and footballer.
He scored twice in the 1908 final as GB beat Belgium 9-2. Two days later he won his second gold of the Games in the 4×200m relay. He also won polo gold in the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, and earned his final medal eight years later in Antwerp in fractious circumstances. GB again faced Belgium in the final. When "Raddy" scored to put the British 3-2 ahead, angry spectators tried to attack the British players. Armed police guarded the team as they left the pool.
He competed for the British team in both the 1924 and 1928 Olympic water polo tournaments and was 42 when his Olympic career ended.
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