FOR THE RECORD: 1984 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold; 1988 OLYMPIC
GAMES: gold; 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: silver; 1986 WORLD
CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold; 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold;
1985, 1987, 1989 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver
Water polo is the dominant national team sport of Croatia and no Croatian
player has ever been more dominant than this highly decorated player from
Club Mladost in Zagreb. When his country was still part of Yugoslavia,
Perica “Pero” Bukic began playing water polo at age 13 for Club Solaris
Shibenik where he learned the skills which, with his intense style of play,
were to form him into one of the world’s greatest players.
In 1984, he played on Yugoslavia’s
gold medal winning Olympic team
and repeated his Olympic gold medal
success in 1988 in Seoul, becoming only the third country to win back-toback
Olympic gold medals in the sport. His Hall of Fame Coach, Ratko
Rudic, called him the most versatile player he had ever coached.
Bukic won nine of 15 national championships while playing for Club
Mladost along with four European champions cups. In 1996, with Bukic
as team captain, Croatia won its first ever Olympic water polo medal finishing
with a silver behind a charismatic team from Spain.
All told, Bukic led his teams
to gold medals at two world
championships and FINA
World Cups, and silver medals at three European championships
and a FINA World Cup.
Retired as a player, Bukic became the president of the Croatian
Water Polo Federation, hired back his former coach, Rudic, and
helped re-establish a floundering Croatian water polo team to the
gold medal at the 2007 Melbourne World Championships. He continues
to lead and inspire.