Rudic: Happy with my team’s progress

Ratko Rudic is one of the most successful coaches in men’s world water polo. He coached the National teams of Yugoslavia, Italy and the USA from mid-80s until 2004 winning Olympic Gold with the former two. From 2005 he has been in charge of the Croatian team winning several medals including Gold at the WC in Melbourne-2007. Rudic’s latest success is Croatia’s win of the 2012 World League. After the last match in Almaty we interviewed Ratko about his immediate and long-term plans.

– Ratko, congratulations! Is this your first visit to Almaty? What can you say about the World League Super Final’s organisation and the tournament in general?

Thank you. Indeed, this is my first trip to Kazakhstan. Naturally, when you visit any place for the first time, you look at everything with special interest. The event was well organisated and the tournament was very useful for my team. Of course, we are very happy with the result.

– Which teams are favourites at the upcoming Olympic tournament?

Certainly, the usual contenders, Serbia, Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Spain, the US and Montenegro, have a good chance to finish on the podium in London. Overall, all teams, with the exception of Great Britain and Kazakhstan, are close to each other and capable of achieving a good result in matches between them on a given day.

– Including Romania?

Yes, Romania has 6-7 players who are very good, especially when they are in physical and mental form and are inspired, they can play very well. I would not discard them.

– What is your opinion about the Australian team?

They have been competitive since the late 90s. For example, at the last OG in Beijing, the match against Hungary was indicative of the team’s potential. The problem seems that Australia can have a close match but still lose at decisive moments.

– What can you say about your team? Are you happy with what you have and how the preparation has been going?

I am very happy. It is a balanced team with quality players in all positions. We also returned a veteran centre-forward, Igor Hinic, who has been playing very well recently. Together with talented Niksa Dobud they give us a lot of depth in this important aspect of our attack. Now we are working on firming the links between all players to make sure that they gel well collectively.

– What are your plans in the remaining several weeks before the London Olympics?

We’ll go back to Croatia for a couple of days and then on to Slovenia for a week’s camp. Afterwards we’ll take part in a couple of tournaments prior to Olympiad.

– Have you thought about your plans after the London OG?

I will have to make a decision then. At my age (64) I will have to see if I have the energy to continue in a highly demanding coaching role. I might feel that a change is needed. If so some other responsibilities such as a coaching director or high-performance manager could be an option. But I would like to stay as close to the real action as possible. We will see. At the moment all my thoughts are about the Olympic games.

– Good luck in London!

Thank you!

About Erkin Эркин Shagaev Шагаев
European, world, Olympic champion, two times World Cup winner Чемпион Европы, мира, Олимпийских игр, двукратный обладатель Кубка мира

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