The European Aquatics Federation (LEN) picked the best water polo players of Europe in the past year.
For the first time, two goalkeepers were chosen for the LEN Awards in the same year. Marko Bijac (Croatia) was named the best male water polo player, while Laura Ester goalie of Spain, was, by LEN’s choice, the best among women in 2017.
Bijac (born 1991) was one of the key players of Croatia at the 17th FINA World Championships in Budapest, where the Croats took the gold medal. Before WCH, the Croats had won the 3rd place in the World League. As a player of Jug Bijac won the Champions League silver medal, the title in the Regional League and both trophies in domestic competitions (Croatian Championship and Cup).
The LEN Awards are voted by the LEN Member Federations and members of the various LEN Committees and Commissions.
Bijac won the first place with 41,2 % of votes. The second place took a goalkeeper of the Hungarian national team, Viktor Nagy (Hungary). In third place is Sandro Sukno (Croatia), who was voted the best water polo player of the world in 2017, by coaches and journalist a month ago (Total player award). Andrija Prlainovic (Serbia) is ranked as 4th, while Marton Vamos (Hungary) took the 5th place.
Four of these five guys played in the final game of the 2016/17 Champions League. Prlainovic, Nagy and Vamos clinched the European title as players of Szolnok, that beat Bijac’s club Jug in the final game. Sandro Sukno (Pro Recco) gained a bronze medal.
Three of Top 5 players earned individual prizes at the major competitions in 2017. Nagy was named the best goalkeeper at the Champions League Final Six and at the World Championships, Andrija Prlainovic was MVP of the Final Six tournament, while Vamos was voted the best player at the World Championships, by journalists’ jury.
Bijac is the second goalkeeper who topped the list of best male water polo players by LEN, after Stefano Tempesti (2011).
Laura Ester (born 1990) was named the best goalkeeper at the World Championships in Budapest. Her excellent performances had a big share on the route of the team of Spain to the silver medal at the Championships in Budapest. Ester, who is the first women goalkeeper that was picked for the LEN Award, won the bronze medal in the Euroleague, as a player of Sabadell.
Results of voting
1. Marko Bijac (Croatia) 41,2 %
2. Viktor Nagy (Hungary) 21,6 %
3. Sandro Sukno (Croatia) 17,5 %
4. Andrija Prlainovic (Serbia) 11,8 %
5. Marton Vamos (Hungary) 5,9%
1.Laura Ester (Spain) 51,0 %
2. Roberta Bianconi (Italy) 25,5 %
3. Maica Garcia (Spain) 9,8 %
4. EkaterinaProkofyeva (Russia) 7,8 %
5. Anna Karnaukh (Russia) 3,9 %
6. Yasemin Smit (The Netherlands) 2,0 %
All time winners’ list
2008: Peter Biros (Hungary)
2009: Filip Filipovic (Serbia)
2010: Vanja Udovicic (Serbia)
2011: Stefano Tempesti (Italy)
2012: Miho Boskovic (Croatia)
2013: Denes Varga (Hungary)
2014: Filip Filipovic (Serbia)
2015: Dusko Pijetlovic (Serbia)
2016: Filip Filipovic (Serbia)
2017: Marko Bijac (Croatia)
2008: Danielle De Bruijn (Netherlands)
2009: Iefke van Belkum (Netherlands)
2010: Sofia Konukh (Russia)
2011: Alexandra Asimaki (Greece)
2012: Anni Espar (Spain)
2013: Jennifer Pareja (Spain)
2014: Maria Garcia (Spain)
2015: Roberta Bianconi (Italy)
2016: Roberta Bianconi (Italy)
2017: Laura Ester (Spain)