Hungary’s Agnes Keleti, the world’s eldest living Olympic champion, today reveals her 100th birthday, receiving a call from the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach as part of the occasion.
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Winning 10 Olympic medals in gymnastics, she is the most successful Hungarian female athlete at the Games, winning five gold, three silver and two bronze medals at the Helsinki 1952 and Melbourne 1956 Olympics.
Only three Hungarians are more successful than her, all from winning medals in fencing. She won the floor event at the 1952 Games and defended that title in 1956. Keleti also won the team, uneven bars and balance beam golds in Melbourne to make her one of the most successful Olympians from the country.
Afterwards, cross-country skier, Lydia Wideman expired in April 2019, Keleti became the oldest living Olympic champion. IOC Head Bach spoke over the phone to Keleti to wish her healthy.
“Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes for your birthday,” supposed Bach.
Your story is truly inspirational. You have demonstrated the power of strong determination and courage to overcome tragedy. These are the attributes of a great Olympic champion. As an Olympian, your 10 medals, five of them gold, are truly astonishing.
I am sure that had you competed at the Olympic Games London 1948; you might even have had more. The President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB), Krisztian Kulcsar, handed over a gift to Keleti on behalf of the IOC, who could not visit her in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
MOB secretary-general Balint Veasy was also present, as was György Nébald, President of the Hungarian Olympic Champions Club and Sandor Altorjai, secretary-general of the Hungarian Gymnastics Association. As well as cake and plants, Keleti also received a copy of the winning medal of Hungary’s first modern Olympic champion, Alfred Hajós.
“You have come to a wonderful anniversary that is given to a few,” supposed Kulcsar.
We are grateful for all you have done during your rich life for both your homeland. The Olympic movement and your sport. Your unique career fills every member of the Hungarian Olympic family with great pride.
Owed to the Second World War, Keleti could not strive at the Olympics until she was 31 years old. She was part of the only Jewish gymnastics club in. Budapest and looked to be part of the Tokyo 1940 Olympics before it was cancelled due to the conflict.
During the war, she was forced to flee Budapest due to threats to Jewish people. Having previously been expelled from her club due to her religion. Keleti was then an alternative for the London 1948 Sports, making her Olympic debut in 1952.
Alive the war after using a fake individuality and marrying related gymnast István Sárkány. She came out of the conflict and back into gymnastics. Resulting in her winning her first Central European Gymnastics Championship in 1947.
Her father and uncles were among 550,000 Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust. Along with her Olympic heroics, she won the 1954 world title in uneven bars. Afterwards Melbourne 1956, she required political asylum in Australia after the Soviet Union invaded Hungary.
Olympic 2020: Migrated to Israel
She later migrated to Israel and taught the national gymnastics side. Keleti was inaugurated into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2002. She is the most fruitful female Jewish athlete in Olympic history. With only one Jewish athlete swimmer Mark Spitz consuming won more Olympic medals.
To mark the occasion, the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) also presented Keleti with the Fair Play Career Award. President of the CIFP, Jenő Kamuti, obtainable her with the prize at the Rumbach Street Synagogue in Budapest.
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