Twenty Olympic, sixteen Paralympic medals, and a successful football EURO marked team Hungary’s path in the world’s most prestigious sporting events of 2021. Cycling, tennis, and skating success further added to the glories achieved in the second coronavirus-hit year. So, let’s see a quick overview.
EURO 2020: Two heroic draws
Despite Hungary having been drawn to the EURO 2020’s group of death, the national team was far from disgracing itself. Although the game against Portugal ended with a straight loss (0-3), Cristiano Ronaldo’s team only managed to first score in the 84th minute. In the following games, neither World Cup title holder France (1-1) nor Germany (2-2) managed to overcome the ‘Nemzeti 11.’ In fact, Hungary fell short only minutes from qualifying for the next round: the Germans only managed to equalize in the 86th minute. This was the second time in a row the team qualified for the European Championships, after a 44-year-long tough break.
Dreams of the World Cup qualification, were, however, destroyed well before the endgame in Group I. Although a draw in England (1-1) and a victory in a Poland (2-1) somewhat elevated the mood at the end, the fact remains that Hungary once again failed to break the curse, as the 1986 World Cup was the last event of international football’s top tournament held with Hungary’s participation.
Olympics: Most medals since Atlanta, 1996
Naturally, the (postponed) Olympics were the most important sports events in 2021. In terms of gold medals (six), and medal table ranking (15th), the Tokyo Games weren’t particularly outstanding. Regarding the number of medals, on the other hand, this was Hungary’s most successful Olympics in the last 25 years. Hungary’s new Olympic champions are:
Kristóf Milák easily won the 200-meter butterfly, even breaking the Olympic record of the most successful swimmer to have ever lived, Michael Phelps.
Áron Szilágyi wrote history after once again winning sabre fencing, which was his third consecutive gold.
Tamás Lőrincz managed to crown his glorious wrestling career by winning the Greco-Roman event in the 77 kg category.
Bálint Kopasz confidently won the men’s kayak single 1000. In addition, he was followed by another Hungarian, Ádám Varga.
Sándor Tótka became the “world’s fastest kayaker” after winning the men’s 200m kayak single.
Dóra Bodonyi, Tamara Csipes, Anna Kárász, and Danuta Kozák topped off the kayak-canoe team’s excellent performance by coming in first in kayak 500 meters.
The other Hungarian medalists were:
- Kristóf Milák (100-meter butterfly)
- Gergely Siklósi (Épée fencing)
- Viktor Lőrincz (Greco-Roman wrestling 87kg)
- Ádám Varga (men’s kayak single 1000 meters)
- Zsombor Berecz (sailing Finn)
- Kristóf Rasovszky (10 km marathon swimming)
- Tamara Csipes (women’s kayak single 500 meters)
- Men’s fencing team
- Krisztián Tóth (Judo 90kg)
- Sarolta Kovács (modern pentathlon individual)
- Gábor Hárspataki (karate 75kg)
- Danuta Kozák and Dóra Bodonyi (women’s kayak double 500 meters)
- Women’s water polo team
- Men’s water polo team
Paralympics: Seven gold, five silver, and four bronze
After the Olympics came the Paralympics with several further results to be proud of: the Tokyo Paralympic Games have proven to be the second most successful competition ever for Team Hungary: seven gold, five silver, and four bronze medals eventually put the team in 18th place on the overall medal table.
Amarilla Veres claimed the first of the shiniest medals for Hungary in wheelchair fencing (épée, category A). Then came Péter Pálos, who managed to fight his way back to the throne in the table tennis S11 category after London
And just a mere 26 minutes after Pálos, Fanni Illés was able to cross the finish line first in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB4.
As expected, Luca Ekler, who won the long jump, and just one day after her second silver, Zsófia Konkoly managed to claim a gold medal in swimming in the 100m butterfly S9. Similarly just one day after her silver place finish, Bianka Pap also claimed victory in the 100m backstroke S10.
And the last one of the gold medal winners was para-canoe racer, Péter Pál Kiss, who hit the finish line first in the men’s KL1.
Other achievements of the year
In perhaps one of the most surprising sports achievements of 2021, cyclist Attila Valter was wearing the pink jersey (for overall first) in Giro d’Italia for three consecutive days, and eventually landed in 14th place in the race, a never-before-seen result for Hungarian riders.
It must be noted at this point that the world’s no. 2 multi-day cycling competition will start from Hungary in 2022.
Tennis player, Márton Fucsovics, also managed to take a step forward in his career. After reaching the final in the prestigious Rotterdam Open (which he eventually lost to Andrey Rublev), for the first time in his career he reached the quarter-final in Wimbledon.
The number one hope and talent of Hungarian football, Dominik Szoboszlai, is unstoppable despite his injury due to which he even had to miss the EURO. Up until now, he scored xx in the German Bundesliga and was twice elected as rookie of the month.
In addition, Hungarian-born German footballer, Dzsenifer Marozsán, emerged as the best European female player of the decade, according to IFFHS.
Back in March, Shaoang Liu won his first world title in speed skating at the men’s 500-meter at the 2021 Short Track Speed Skating World Championships in Dordrecht, followed by his brother Shaolin Sándor‘s victory in the men’s 1000 meter one day later, where the two finished first and second.
featured image: Attila Fiola scores against France at the EURO 2020; via Tibor Illyés/MTI