World champion orienteering competitor Sarolta Monspart, has been elected the new “Athlete of the Nation” after Éva Székely’s death in February.
Introduced in 2004, the circle of the “Athletes of the Nation” consists of 12 living senior athletes who achieved exceptional results during their careers, and who also played important roles in sports and/or society after retirement. The award includes an annuity that is now set to HUF 630,000 (EUR 1,764) gross per month. New members are voted in following the membership’s unanimous vote.
Monspart has been voted in after Olympic champion swimmer Éva Székely died in February at the age of 91. She has long been known to desire membership in the group. “I have especially longed for the Athlete of the Nation title as this way non-Olympic sports can also be represented, which indicates the equality between the top athletes,” she said.
The most successful orienteer in Hungary, Monspart has won countless national orienteering championships. In 1972, she became the first non-Scandinavian female runner to win the World Championships in orienteering. Besides a silver medal, in 1976, she came in third as a member of the national team.
Interestingly, she tried her skills in cross-country skiing as well, and won the Hungarian championships six times. In addition, she was the first European woman to complete a marathon in 3 hours. Her career was halted because of a serious encephalitis inflammation caused by a tick.
She coached the Hungarian national orienteering team for ten years, and in 2012 she was elected vice-president of the Hungarian Olympic Committee (MOB) as well. She has long been engaged in promoting sports and a healthy lifestyle- most recently, she came up with the idea of walking clubs for the elderly.
featured image by Zoltán Balogh/MTI