Famous Jewish athletes and sports leaders
Every week, Maccabi VAC presents a Hungarian Jewish athlete, sports leader, pruner, coach, who played a decisive role in Hungarian and universal sports.
The five-time Olympic champion awarded the title of Athlete of the Nation is a Hungarian gymnast; the most successful competitor in Hungarian gymnastics. She has won the Hungarian championship 46 times and is a seven-time team champion. She is the oldest living Olympic champion today.
She was born in Budapest on January 9, 1921, her family was of Jewish descent; her original name was Ágnes Klein. She started her sports career with the National Gymnastics Association (NTE). She made her debut for the Hungarian national team at the age of 18. In 1940 she won her first Hungarian championship medal. She survived the war in Szalkszentmárton with fake papers. In 1946, she won the Balkan Games. She was a member of the national team at the 1948 Summer Olympics, but could not take part in the competition due to a torn ligament, so her teammate Erzsébet Balázs had the opportunity to step in winning a silver medal for the team. In 1949, she won four gold medals at the university world championships. She was champion of the mat at the 1952 Olympics, winning a silver medal and two bronze medals. In 1954, she won the World Championships on the uneven bars.
In 1956, she won the Olympics in three different categories (mat, beam, uneven bars) and in the rhythmic gymnastics team. Immediately after the ’56 Olympics, she migrated to Australia and then in 1957 to Israel, where she was a college teacher and coach. In Israel, she made a significant contribution to the development of national gymnastics in gymnastics training and coaching. From 1958 to 1980 she was the coach of the Israeli gymnastics team, and from 1959 to 1960 she was the coach of the Italian gymnastics team. From 1983 to 1988, she coached at Israeli clubs. From 1957 to 1980, she was a teacher at the Israeli College of Physical Education as well as an international judge. In 2002, she entered the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame.