The long path that would lead Mait Riisman to being crowned as an Olympic winner in water polo at the Olympic Games of 1980 in Moscow started in 1966, during a water polo training session in Tallinn Kalev Swimming School. Riisman spent a substantial part of his top competitive career playing for major Russian water polo clubs (Moscow University in 1974–1983, Torpedo Moscow in 1983–1984 and Dynamo Moscow in 1984–1988) and was also included in the USSR national team for a number of years.
Riisman’s first international success dates back to 1976, when he became the winner of the European Cup within the USSR national team. In addition to medals in numerous USSR championships, Riisman won a gold medal in the Estonian Championships in 1974. His competitive career reached its peak with a gold medal in the Moscow Olympics in 1980.
After retiring from competitive sport, Riisman spent a long period working as a water polo coach (with Dynamo Moscow and as the second coach of the USSR national team in 1989–1991; with the French club Racing Club de France in 1991–1996; as the head coach of the Dynamo Moscow water polo team in 1996–2004 and as the second coach of Russia’s national team in 1997– 2000). His top achievements in coaching include Dynamo Moscow winning the European Cup in 2000 and becoming the winner of the Russian Championship in 1998 as well as 2000–2002. During his work with Racing Club de France, the club won a silver medal in the national championship.
Mait Riisman worked in versatile roles as a sports leader. In 2005, he was elected chairman of the board of coaches of the Russian Water Polo Federation. From 2001 to 2011, he was the president and chief director of the Dynamo Moscow water polo club, working as the president’s adviser afterwards. He also worked as the advisor to the chairman of the Dynamo sports association in Russia and collaborated with sports media in Estonia and Russia.
Mait Riisman was an honorary member of Estonian Olympic Committee (since 2002) and received the Estonian Olympic Committee's badge of merit (2006).
Estonian sport has lost one of its greatest men. We bow our heads in mourning.
Our deepest condolences go to Mait Riisman’s family and friends.
Rest in peace, Mait.
Mait Riisman’s wake service will be held on Tuesday, 22 May at 11:30am in St. John’s Church (Jaani kirik) in Tallinn Freedom Square. The Olympic Champion will be buried at Pirita cemetery.