Dominik Szoboszlai and Hedvig Karakas are Hungary’s Athletes of the Year for 2020. The annual Gala took place on Monday at the national theatre in Budapest, reports sports daily Nemzeti Sport.
The gala featured a number of categories for individual athletes, teams, coaches, and most exciting sporting moments. This year was unique, with no live audience due to the pandemic, viewers instead tuned in online and on their televisions.
The men’s category gained particular attention this year. Hungarians have been at the edges of their seats for weeks now, wondering which among the top three athletes will receive the prestigious award. The two other individuals who Dominik was in competition with were Márton Fucsovics and Szoboszlai’s teammate Péter Gulácsi, winning second and third place respectively. Szoboszlai was difficult to beat at 563 points, but Fucsovics’ score of 364 was only 15 points ahead of Gulácsi’s 349.
At just 20 years old, Dominik Szoboszlai is considered Hungarian football’s most promising athlete. Thanks to his performance in the Champion’s League and the Austrian Bundesliga, the young prodigy has caught the attention of clubs such as Arsenal, AC Milan, Napoli, and even Real Madrid. In December, he ultimately signed with RB Leipzig for 20 million euros, becoming the most expensive Hungarian athlete of all-time.
Playing for the Hungarian national team, his goal against Iceland won 2020’s most exciting sporting moment, which comes as little surprise as it brought Hungary into the UEFA European Football Championship. “My biggest goal this year was understandably to help the national team reach the European Championships, which we succeeded in,” said Szoboszlai in his acceptance speech. His award was given to him by two-time Olympic gold medalist Zsuzsanna Francia, daughter of coronavirus vaccine researcher Katalin Karikó, who informed him that he had even made it onto America’s most watched sports network.
In second place, Márton Fucsovics is a formidable tennis player, having performed exceptionally well in the last three years at the Australian Open, French Open, US Open, and Wimbledon. In September he defeated Daniil Medvedev, a global top-10 tennis athlete. This was the first time since Balázs Taróczy (37 years ago), that a Hungarian defeated a top-10 player at a Grand Slam tournament.
Márton Fucsovics. Photo by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI
In third place is Péter Gulácsi, the number one ranked goal keeper of the Hungarian national team, and Szoboszlai’s teammate at RB Leipzig. Gulácsi is considered by many to be among the top 10 goal goalkeepers in the world. Gulácsi’s goalkeeping was crucial for bringing the Hungarian national team into the European Championships.
In the zone: Gulácsi at Split’s Poljud Stadium in 2019. Photo via Tibor Illyés/MTI
In the women’s category, Hedvig Karakas, an outstanding judoka with multiple medals under her belt, came in first place with an astounding 650 points. Gymnast Zsófia Kovács came in second with 574 points, while swimmer Boglárka Kapás came in third with 320 points.
Hedvig Karakas is the current European Judo Champion, having placed first at the 2020 competition in Prague. She has more than once brought home a medal from a Grand Slam, and even finished among the top five at the 2012 Olympic games. Karakas is one of the best judokas in the world right now. In her weight class, she is ranked number eight on the World Ranking List of the International Judo Federation.
Karakas Hedvig accepting her award from Balázs Fürjes, State Secretary of the Prime Minister’s office. Photo via Tibor Illyés/MTI
Representing the Hungarian national gymnastics team, Zsófia Kovács also brought home gold medals last year. She participated in the 2020 European Championship in Mersin, winning gold in vault and uneven bars. She and her team won bronze at the same competition, the first time ever in the European Championship history that a Hungarian team made it onto the podium.
Boglárka Kapás is difficult to overlook as well, being the 2019 world champion in 200m butterfly, and having won bronze in 800m freestlye at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Hungary’s team of the year for traditional team sports goes to the men’s national football team, who had an unexpectedly successful year. The individual sports teams prize went to Tímea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic for their exceptional performance in women’s doubles tennis.
In the featured photo, Dominik Szoboszlai celebrates his goal. Photo via Tibor Illyés/MTI