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Hungary beats Russian team for historic water polo bronze at Olympics

Vanda Valyi scored three times on three shots for Hungary, which finished fourth in each of the last three Games. Captain Rita Kesthelyi had two goals.

Published: 07th August 2021 01:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th August 2021 01:30 PM   |  A+A-

Hungary's Vanda Valyi (3) passes the ball as she is defended by Alena Serzhantova, left, of the Russian Olympic Committee, during a preliminary round women's water polo match. (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

TOKYO: Hungary earned the country's first medal in women's water polo on Saturday, beating the Russian team 11-9 for bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.

Vanda Valyi scored three times on three shots for Hungary, which finished fourth in each of the last three Games. Captain Rita Kesthelyi had two goals.

“I mean, we've been in this position, not just the Olympics, but multiple other times,” Rebecca Parkes said, “and I think the fight just gets stronger and stronger.”

Hungary was clinging to a 10-9 lead in the final seconds when Alda Magyari stopped a long shot by Russian opponent Nadezhda Glyzina. Magyari then threw the ball into the open net for the clinching goal.

The 20-year-old Magyari finished with 10 saves.

“She did a pretty, pretty amazing job and I cannot say anymore positive thoughts about her,” Kesthelyi said. “So glad that we have her, and she has a bright future.”

Kesthelyi’s father, Tibor, played water polo for Hungary in the 1988 Olympics, and she said her mother was among the first women to play the sport in her country. Rita Kesthelyi fought back tears when asked about the significance of the bronze medal.

“I'm sure everyone is very, very proud of us and happy that we achieve this,” she said. “It's a huge step in our history.”

Hungary beat the United States in group play, handing the Americans their first loss at the Olympics since the 2008 final. It outlasted the Netherlands in the quarterfinals before losing to Spain.

Spain plays the Americans for gold later Saturday.

Hungary's men's team — the most successful country in the the Olympics' oldest team sport with nine gold medals — also plays for bronze Sunday against Spain.

Glyzina, Anastasia Simanovich and Ekaterina Prokofyeva each scored two goals for the Russian team, which won bronze in 2016. Anna Karnaukh made six saves.

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