London – GBR, August 12, 2012: The legend continues as Ratko Rudic guided Croatia to their first Olympic gold medal with a comprehensive 8-6 victory over Italy at the Water Polo Arena on Sunday. For Rudic, it was a record fourth gold medal as a coach, let alone silver as a player in 1980. Rudic guided Yugoslavia to gold in 1984 and 1988 and Italy in 1992 and now his native Croatia at London 2012.
Croatia enjoyed a silver medal at Atlanta 1996 soon after independence but now rise into the hall of champions with a dominant performance built on three Maro Jokovic goals, a 3-2 half-time advantage and 5-3 at the final break.
The victory and the lack of goals against Croatia during the fortnight can also be attributed to the tournament’s finest goalkeeper, Josip Pavic (CRO), who was named London 2012’s most valuable player. Joining Pavic in the all-star team was Niksa Dobud, the tournament’s pre-eminent centre forward.
Jokovic scored twice in the fourth for a handsome 7-3 lead. It became 8-4 with just over three minutes remaining, a chasm Italy could not bridge. Christian Presciutti (ITA) accepted a cross pass on counter attack to narrow the margin to 8-5 but the game crawled to an end with only Maurizio Felugo (ITA), selected to the all-star team, failing to accept defeat, sending in a shot from near halfway on full time for 8-6.
By then the Croatians were celebrating and the traditional enforced swim by the staff sent the pockets of Croatian fans into hysteria. Rudic’s opposite, Sandro Campagna (ITA), looked unhappy with the result and the chance to beat his coach when he won Olympic gold with Italy at Barcelona 1992.
Both teams scored four goals on man-up situations with Croatia having seven attempts and Italy 10. —- FINA
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