Sofia&Oslo 1985 and Strasbourg 1987

17th European Championship – Sofia (Bulgaria) and Oslo (Norway) 1985

Advance to the East
The tournament in the Bulgarian capital lasted from 4 to 11 August. Sofia went down in history as the easternmost city ever to host the European Championships. A little later, it will be slightly surpassed by Athens. Before bidding to host this European Championship, Sofia had 7 swimming pools, but then built an additional, magnificent swimming pool complex.

Bebić and Estiarte
The top scorer at the European Championships in Sofia was Milivoj Bebić, then a 26-year-old Croatian, who scored 21 goals, breaking the streak of Manuel Estiarte, who had been the competition’s top scorer at the previous two European Championships.

A women’s tournament for the first time
The 1985 European Championships went down in history as the first water polo championships for women. Although they were part of the same championship, the women did not compete in Sofia but on the other side of Europe, in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. In the women’s competition, the Dutch won the first gold medal, silver went to Hungary, and bronze to West Germany. In the men’s competition, the best USSR was followed by Yugoslavia and West Germany.

European Champions 1985 (men) – USSR: Jevgenij Šaronov, Nurlan Mendigalijev, Pavel Prokočjuk, Jevgenij Grišin, Sergej Naumov, Viktor Berendjuga, Sergej Kotenko, Askar Oraralinov, Georgij Mšvenieradze, Mihail Ivanov, Sergej Markoč, Nikolaj Smirnov, Mihail Giorgadze. Coach: Boris Popov

European Champions 1985 (women) – Netherlands: Madeline Van Heemstra, Marion Van Der Mark, Janet Heljnert, Ineke Pesman, Belinda Hibbel, Lieneke Van Den Heuvel, Anita Bibo, Alice Lindhout, Monique Kranenburg, Patricia Libregts, Lilian Ossendrijver, Marian Walthie, Hedda Verdam.

18th European Championship – Strasbourg (France) 1987

The first prefabricated pool
This European Championship was the first time a prefabricated pool was used. The 50-metre-long aluminium pool was used only for swimming training, and was built in Italy for the French city of Perpignan, which temporarily ceded it to Strasbourg to help out. The men’s tournament was held in the swimming pool in the centre of the city, not far from the current European Parliament building, while the women played in a small town north of Strasbourg, Wacken.

Soviet domination
For the first time since pre-World War 2 Hungary, and the 1950s and early 1960s, one national team managed to win three consecutive gold medals. The 1980s was the era of the then Soviet Union at the European Championships. The silver medal again went to Yugoslavia, and the bronze to Italy. The top scorer of the tournament was the German Hagen Stamm with 21 goals.

European Champions 1987 (men) – USSR: Jevgenij Šaronov, Oleg Švedov, Aleksandr Ogorodnikov, Aleksandr Kolotov, Sergej Naumov, Viktor Berendjuga, Sergej Kotenko, Dmitrij Apanasenko, Georgij Mšvenieradze, Pavel Volkov, Sergej Markoč, Sergej Maksimov, Vadim Rozdestvenskij, Mihail Giorgadze. Coach: Boris Popov

European Champions 1987 (women) – Netherlands: Madeline Van Heemstra, Hellen Boering, Lieneke Van Den Heuvel, Anita Bibo, Irma Brander, Monique Kranenburg, Patricia Libregts, Greet Van Den Veen, Lilian Ossendrijver, Esmeralda Van Den Vater, Ilse Sindorf, Hedda Verdam, Janny Spijker, Anita Nijenhuis.

USSR – European champions in Strasbourg in 1981