May 21, 2020 – One of the world’s most respected and serious media outlets, The Wall Street Journal, featured Croatian water polo coach Ratko Rudic in the article titled “The World’s Greatest Coast is Not Who You Think”.
Index.hr reports that they then explained who they were referring to: “Ratko Rudic, a man who won four Olympic gold medals with three different national teams and who recently retired.”
As he recently said in an interview with Index, Rudic also revealed to WSJ reporters that he is enjoying retirement by painting abstract works inspired by Dali and Pollock while listening to jazz by Mingus and Marsalis because, as he says, it is a “great combination”.
Journalists Joshua Robinson and Ben Cohen explained that if most Americans have never heard the name Ratko Rudic, it is only because most Americans do not follow water polo.
To bring readers closer to the hero of the story, the WSJ reporters write that players feared Rudic as they did the ruthless Bill Belichick, the legendary American football coach, but at the same time, adored him as John Woode, the greatest coach of university basketball.
Rudic’s impressive achievements are listed: appearances at nine Olympic Games, leading five national teams, winning five coaching and one player medal, of which as many as four are gold. It sounds almost unbelievable that 28 years have passed between his first and last Olympic gold medal. Thus, according to Olympic historian Bill Mallone – Rudić is, therefore, the longest-living athlete.
“After he did all this, led the national teams of Yugoslavia, Italy, the USA, Croatia and Brazil, a pandemic had to happen to drive Rudic into retirement,” the text reads.
His former players say Rudic was the most inspiring leader they have ever met.
“He always knew he could get more from players than players can even imagine,” said UCLA University water polo coach Adam Wright.
The article also recalled that the US national team, composed of students from the elite Berkeley and Stanford, realized who their coach was on two occasions. The first, after swimming drills went from three to 14 thousand meters, and when during preparations in Italy, where they practiced with the national team there, Rudic went crazy at the chef who gave the hosts vegetables at a joint dinner, and his team none.
With the slogan “we must suffer”, Rudic exposed the Americans to exhausting, painful training for eight hours a day, twice a day for four hours. The players also had to accept Rudic’s specialty – underwater wrestling – where the players had to keep each other underwater.
Given the brutal methods, charisma, and success, the authors of the text in the WSJ call Rudic “Michael Jordan with a better mustache”.
You can read the full piece on WSJ here.
To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.