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.
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Soccer Player in History"...
Whichever nickname you remember him by, he exemplified the role of a
striker and shoting. His dreadful left-feet shoot frightened many goal
keepers. It was Puskas who bruised the chest of Korean soccer player Deok-young
Hong, the Goal Keeper of the Korean Team during the 1954 World Cup Soccer
Games. Puskas began his career with Honved, which in the years following World War
Two was the Hungarian army team. Earning an enduring reputation for his deadly left foot, he won an Olympic gold
medal with the national side in 1952 shutting out Yugoslavia by 2-0 in the final with goals by Puskas az Czibor. Led by
Puskas, Hungary recorded one of the most famous victories in soccer
history in 1953 when they became the first continental team to beat England at
Wembley, winning 6-3 in magnificent style. 6 months later, despite German attempts to injure him in an earlier match, Puskás led
Hungary with its incredible 4-year, 33 game winning streak to defeat powerhouse England
7-1 and into the 1954 World Cup finals where favored Hungary lost to Germany after a
controversial call taking away a clear Hungarian goal.
The Right-Handed Shooter Who Won With His Left Hand...this "handicapped" Olympian would become the first repeat winner of the rapid-fire pistol event! Karoly Takacs was a member of the Hungarian pistol shooting team in 1938 when, while serving as a sergeant in the army, a defective grenade exploded in his right hand - his pistol hand - and shattered it completely. After spending a month in the hospital, Takacs secretly taught himself to shoot with his left hand. The following year he won the Hungarian pistol shooting championship and was a member of the Hungarian team that won the automatic pistol event at the world championships. The next two Olympics, in 1940 and 1944, were cancelled because of war, but in 1948 Takacs qualified for the Hungarian Olympic team in the rapid-fire pistol event. He was 38 years old. Before the competition, the favorite, world champion and world record holder, Carlos Enrique Díaz Saenz Valiente, asked Takacs why he was in London. Takacs replied, "I'm here to learn." Takacs won the gold medal and beat the world record by ten points. During the medal ceremony, Díaz Saenz Valiente, who finished second, turned to Takacs and said, "You have learned enough." Four years later in Helsinki, Takács successfully defended his Olympic title to become the first repeat winner of the rapid-fire pistol event.
Hungary, with its great sporting culture, has a proud history of medal winning "Handicapped" Olympians. Amputee Oliver Halassy won two Gold Medals in Waterpolo in 1932 and 1936 and a Silver in 1928. 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!
One of the Greatest Olympic
Szekely's final Olympic Games occured in 1956, when she and her husband, Dezso Gyarmati (Hungary's water polo captain and "Greatest Waterpoloist of All Time") left for the Melbourne Olympics during the first days of the Hungarian revolt against Communism. Eva later explained that the world turned upside down when: "...we arrived in Melbourne, we learned that the Russians had come into power...we had no word of our two-year old daughter, or my parents. I didn't get any real sleep for a week before I was due to race and lost over 12 pounds. My husband also was extremely worried, of course..." At the Games, Eva won the silver in the 200-meter breaststroke (2:54.8). She said of her silver medal: "...even though it was one of the few times that I have been beaten in competition, considering everything, I am very proud of the silver medal..."
Between 1940-1958, Szekely set 10 World records and 5 Olympic swimming records. Her World Records included the 100-meter breaststroke (1:16.9) in 1951, the 400-meter individual medley (5:50.4) in 1953, and the 400-meter freestyle relay (4:27.2) in 1952. Eva also won 10 World University Championships, 68 Hungarian National Titles, and held 107 Hungarian National records! In 1952, the definition of breaststroke was such that the arms had to move in parallel. Szekely was the first to use the butterfly stroke when she won the gold at Helsinki. By 1956, the definition had changed and the butterfly was a medal discipline of its own.
In 1957, Dezso was beaten and left for dead when the communist puppet regime heard about the family's intention of defecting. He survived and took Eva and daughter Andrea with forged passports and fled Hungary to the United States. They returned to Hungary the following year because they were concerned about Eva's parents (who remained in Hungary). Dezso continued to compete for the national water polo team. Andrea Gyarmati, was a 1972 Olympic silver medalist in the 100m backstroke bronze medalist in the 100-meter butterfly. She later married Mihaly Hesz, the 1968 Olympic canoeing champion.
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