While going through the history of nations and sports, one comes across many success stories. Stories of human triumph and achievements that show the will of nations to survive and rise above all odds.
When Dezso Gyarmati, one of the most successful water polo player of all times from Hungary, said at the end of their historic win against Russia in 1956 Melbourne Olympics “We are a small nation, but we must persevere, thus we can never give up”, he gave a very powerful message to the entire sports world. Dezso knew that it’s not the size and geographical location of any country, but the perseverance of its people which determines its future.
Hungary had been subjected to numerous foreign invasions. It lost more than 70 percent of its territory in World War I. From 1945 to 1990, the country remained under Soviet domination.
During the last four centuries the Hungarians suffered many tragedies. Despite that Hungary produced a number of scientists, economists, musicians, artists, sportsmen and dozens of noble laureates, who are all a true reflection of amazing Hungarian talent.
Hungary is eleventh on the all-time medals table for Summer and Winter Olympic games. The country is not only proud to have a total of 177 gold, 151 silver and 174 bronze medals, but has also been successful in creating a viable sports economy and vibrant sport culture. It has also come up with many innovations in the world of sports.
The Hungarian sports history is full of amazing stories. One such story is of Karoly Takacs who was an exceptional marksman. In 1938, during a military exercise of grenade throwing, Takacs lost his right hand because of grenade explosion. With incredible willpower and resolve to overcome his disability, Takacs learned to shoot with his left hand. With his left hand he made a world record in 1952 Helsinki Olympics. Between 1938 and 1960 Karoly Takacs became Hungarian pistol shooting champion 35 times.
Hungary has also produced outstanding football players such as Ferenc Puskas. He was part of Hungarian golden football team and also remained the main force of Real Madrid. Renowned football players such as Laszlo Kubala, Zoltan Czibor and Sandor Kocsis who are playing for FC Barcelona hail from Hungary.
The Hungarian sport system also produced outstanding leaders and community workers. The two-time fencing Olympic Champion Pal Schmitt, who was the President of Hungarian Olympic Committee, later served IOC as its Vice President and then became the President of Hungary in 2010.
Hungary is also known for producing best Kayak Canoe players. In this discipline, Hungary has won a total of 25 Olympic gold medals. In Rio de Janeiro, Danuta Kozak won three gold medals for her country.
Tamas Wichmann is nine-time world champion and three-time European champion. In 1978 Wichmann received the UNESCO International Fair Play award for his outstanding sportsmanship and unselfish support to Yugoslav Canoe athlete Matija Ljubek who later became his best friend and lived with him until his death.
Table tennis is yet another sport in which Hungary has excelled. It surprised the unbeatable Chinese in 1971 and 1975 in Nagoya and Kolkata World Championships. The Hungarians give credit of these memorable wins to great Zoltan Berczik who trained the champion duo of Gabor Gergely and Istvan Jonyer.
Hungary also produced great boxers such as Laszlo Papp whose boxing and personal attributes motivated French actor and film director Jean Paul Belmondo to produce a memorable film “Fear Over the City”.
Besides Papp, Hungary surprised the sports world in the Rome Olympics of 1960 when 50-year-old Aladar Gerevich won the gold medal in fencing. Gerevich had already won gold in 1932, 1936, 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games.
Gerevich was awarded the Olympic Order of the international Olympic Committee in 1988. In 1990, he received an International Fair Play award.
Andras Balezo was one of the greatest personalities of modern pentathlon sport. Film director Ferenc Kosa produced a wonderful film by the name of “Mission” on the life of the great athlete.
Andras won gold in in 1960 Rome Olympics, 1968 Mexico Olympics, and 1972 Munich Olympics. His victory at 1969 World Championships was particularly memorable when thousands of people ran along with him on a portrait film about his life.
The Hungarians are also known for their innovations in sports industry. Olympic champion Miklos Nemeth developed an improved javelin called “Flying History” through which the Hungarian athletes improved their throws in World Championships.
The Hungarian fencers also played an important role in the automation of the sword fencing discipline by building a hit scoring apparatus. The two-time Olympic champion Zoltan Magyar worked with his trainer and developed a new element in the pommel horse which was accepted and approved by International Gymnastics Federation. This special move is now known in Gymnastics as “Magyar Travel”.
The latest innovation from Hungary was TEQBALL which gained instant popularity throughout the world. The international Teqball Federation (FITEQ) was formed in March 2017. Two to four players can participate in the game at a time. The game was introduced three years ago by Gabor Borsanyl and Viktor Huszar.
Teqball is a football-based sport, which is wonderful for developing the skills of both professional and amateur footballers. The game improves ball handling, endurance, concentration and technical abilities of players.
Istvan Szabo, Hungary’s ambassador in Pakistan, says that Pakistan has great potential to rise in Olympic sports because of its large young human resource pool. It is just the matter of providing the right direction to its youth, he adds. The ambassador said that Hungary would be extremely happy and forthcoming to support Pakistan in developing its sports programmes, facilities and the requisite human resource.
The ambassador says that every possible instrument is utilised in Hungary to motivate young people to join sports activities and exercise regularly. For this purpose, school gyms have been constructed and playing facilities have been created in cities and towns and the Hungarian universities produce champion athletes and train human resource to support the Hungarian sport system.
The ambassador says Hungary and Pakistan enjoy excellent relations which can be further strengthened through sports.