Hungarian Olympic gold medalist, gymnast Szilveszter Csollány, has died at the age of 51 after being hospitalized with coronavirus last month. Csollány won the Olympic gold medal in men’s gymnastics rings at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
Szilveszter “Szilas” Csollány was born in 1970 in Sopron. He began his sports career at the age of 5 in Győr, where his talent quickly became apparent, especially on the rings and the pommel horse.
After moving to Budapest in 1986, he became a member of the Hungarian national team in 1989. Just a year later, he won his first medal at an international tournament, finishing third at the European Championships.
Csollány won the Olympic silver medal in men’s gymnastics rings at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
The athlete then went on and claimed the Olympic gold at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.
Here is Csollány’s winning routine from Sydney:
During the time between his two Olympic medals, he also finished first at the European championships in 1998 in St. Petersburg. In 2002, the athlete won gold at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Debrecen, completing his collection of gold medals.
Szilveszter Csollány was chosen as the Hungarian gymnast of the year seven times, and Hungarian sportsman of the year two times in 2000 and 2002. He was declared one of the immortals of Hungarian gymnastics in 2009.
He retired in 2004, going on to become a children’s gymnastics coach.
When he gave an interview to Nemzeti Sport in 2020, after his 50th birthday, he said he didn’t feel old and he was in good physical condition. “My bones don’t hurt, I don’t feel 50 years old,” he said.
Szilveszter Csollány contracted the coronavirus in early November. He was soon admitted to the hospital in Sopron with pneumonia. As the athlete’s condition deteriorated rapidly, he was transferred to one of the specialist hospitals in Budapest, where he was placed on a special ventilator, an ECMO machine.
After fighting for his life for 53 days, the Olympic champion gymnast passed away on Monday.
The Hungarian Gymnastics Federation and the Hungarian Olympic Committee released their statement on Monday announcing Szilveszter Csollány’s death:
“The Hungarian Gymnastics Federation and the Hungarian Olympic Committee are deeply saddened to announce that Szilveszter Csollány, Olympic, World, and European champion gymnast, has passed away at the age of 51. The Olympic champion gymnast was not only an outstanding athlete but also an excellent husband and a very good father.”
The news of Szilveszter Csollány’s death shocked his fellow athletes and his former coach.
“This news is breaking my heart, I am choking with tears, I can hardly speak. We have lost a wonderful man, a fantastic athlete, this is a huge loss for Hungarian gymnastics and Hungarian sports life. It is painful that he left us at such a young age,” two-time Olympic champion Hungarian gymnast, Zoltán Magyar, who was awarded the title of National Athlete, told Nemzeti Sport.
“Sadly, Szilas has passed away… I was shocked to hear the news, I have not recovered since. Szilveszter Csollány was my great role model, his Olympic gold medal made me realize that I could be one of the best. I was fifteen years old at the time, and two years later we were on the podium together as members of the Hungarian national team at the World Championships in Debrecen. Goodbye, Szilas!,” Olympic champion, three-time world champion, and six-time European champion Hungarian gymnast, Krisztián Berki said.
“It is very difficult to say anything – what can I say now that Szilas has died… I was very confident in his recovery, it never crossed my mind that he would leave us… We have many, many memories together, and not only in sport, as we won a fishing tournament together. I was hoping that we could be together again, that we could cook together again, that everything would work out for the best. There is nothing more terrible than when a parent buries his child, but I feel the same way because the many years we spent together made me think of him as my child,” said István Vereckei, Szilveszter Csollány’s former coach.