Did you know...as of 2016, Hungary ranks 8th in the world in medals at the Summer Olympic Games despite its being torn apart after WWI and losing half her population and 2/3 of her territory. This does not include an additional 6 medals won in the Winter Olympics nor the Hungarians that won medals as nationals of other countries after borders were redrawn or after large-scale emigration.
The beginnings of the Olympic movement in Hungary go back further than the Games in Athens. Ferenc Kemeny, a great pacifist and member of the International Peace Bureau, was one of Pierre de Coubertin's first kindred spirits, with whom he struck up a friendship in the 1880's.
Kemeny took an active part in the Congress for the re-establishment of the Games held in Paris in 1894 and was one of the founding members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Coubertin supported Kemeny's suggestion to hold the first Olympics in Budapest in 1896 in honor of Hungary's 1000 years of statehood. While the dream of hosting an Olympics is not yet realized, Hungary has won more Olympic medals than any other nation that has never hosted the Games.
Hungary in the Olympics - Select a Year:
1936 Berlin Highlights
The 1936 Berlin Olympics... are best remembered for Adolf Hitler's failed attempt to use them to prove his theories of Aryan racial superiority. As it turned out, the most popular hero of the Games, even among the German people, was the legendary African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens... Adding to the insult, an "imperfect" Hungarian amputee also won Gold! To top it off, Ilona Elek, who became the first woman to win two Olympic gold medals in the individual foil competition was half Jewish!
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Featured 1936 Olympians
A Lesson in
Tenacity: Amputee Wins 2nd Gold!
Oliver Halassy is not the only "handicapped" Hungarian Olympic Medalist. Shooter Karoly Takacs, the "Right-Handed Shooter Who Won With His Left Hand,"... became the first repeat winner of the rapid-fire pistol event, taking Gold Medals in 1948 and 1952. A Sergeant in the Hungarian Army, Takács lost his right hand when a grenade malfunctioned. He was unable to compete in 1940 and 1944 as the war interrupted the Olympic Games and first competed at the age of 38. Fencer Rejto Ildiko, a triumphant "handicapped" icon, and winner of 7 Olympic Medals (two Gold), was still a Champion in 1999! Rejto participated in FIVE Olympics - 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976 - and won 7 medals!
Gave His Life
A medical doctor, he died at the age of 32 in Sopron in an allied bombing raid while he was tending patients..
One of the World's
Greatest Fencers Returns...
Kabos returned to the Olympics four years later at the 1936 Berlin Olympics and dominated the competition. He won gold medals in both the team and individual events, winning 24 of 25 matches in the individual competition, while Hungary as a team went undefeated.
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