[Note: This interview was originally conducted back on September 10, 2008.]
Now, you may be asking yourself, who is Gery Kiss?
But after doing some research you may find that Kiss is one of the top water polo—yes, water polo—players in the world. So what does that have to do with this post? Well, Kiss was part of the gold medal winning Hungary water polo team at the 2008 Beijing Games, and I had the opportunity to talk to one of the star players on that team.
Nick Barnowski: You have won three Olympic gold medals in a row for the Hungarian national team. What is it like being a part of those teams?
Gery Kiss: Three gold medals, 21 players. All of them are extraordinary talents and athletes. In Sydney I was the 2nd youngest on the team, but I felt as if I had always been with these great teammates.
NB: In the United States water polo is not followed by many people regularly. If someone asked you, “Why should I follow water polo?”, what would you say to them?
GK: It is a beautiful sport, just for standing in the deep water, you have to practice for years. It is an interesting mixture of swimming, football (soccer) and ice hockey: goals, fights, nice movements in a very healthy atmosphere, like the clean water.
NB: You are known for your domination during the 2004 Athens games, where you scored the game winning goal for your team in the gold medal match. Is there any greater feeling than winning the gold medal for your country?
GK: My four goals out of Hungary's eight remains always a big memory in my mind. But to make a nation of 15 million happy, you can't beat the feeling.
NB: How much of an affect does your coach, Denes Kemeny have on you and your play?
GK: He has a very good gift of teaching. He knows when to say "well done" or "you have to improve a lot in this or that". He always has something in his mind to surprise the other team. He knows when to work you hard and when we need an extra break.
NB: Most people reference to you when talking about the greatest left handed players of all-time. How much of a difference does being left or right handed make in water polo?
GK: Thanks for the kind words! I believe that being a lefty is a big advantage in water polo. Every team needs lefties to play at the right wing, and every goalkeeper is used to seeing shots from the right handed players, because (generally) only 1 out of 10 players are left handed. We often have a special shot, a kind of unexpected, unusual style, and maybe our brain works differently, so we can serve the ball, and preview the situation a little bit better.
NB: What is the atmosphere like before a big game against rivals like Serbia or Montenegro?
GK: You have to be prepared like a mixture of an ancient warrior and a university student: brave, heroic, clever and calm. You and your teammates have to feel the same brotherhood, that special feeling that you are able to suffer, bleeding etc. for the others. This is maybe the only way to beat these very good teams.
Personally I loved his last answer, and I also realized again that what may not be popular here in the United States is very popular in countries like Hungary.
It's not often that you get to talk with a three-time gold medalist, but I enjoyed the experience (although it happened back in September) and I'd like to thank Mr. Kiss once again.