The Olympics and Hungary

I guess it's time to talk about the games that are transfixing the world. The opening ceremony was watched by a record four billion people.

Hungarians like to call their country a "world power in sports" and indeed, considering the country's size, Hungary has had its fair share of medals. Since the beginning of the games Hungary has received 159 gold, 141 silver, and 160 bronze medals. Lately the medal count is nothing like Helsinki in 1954 where Hungary received 42 medals, 16 of which were gold. But until the Sydney Olympics Hungarian athletes managed to get between 20 and 30 medals. In the last two games (Sydney and Athens) the number of medals went under 20 for the first time in recent history. In 2000 Hungary finished 13th in the medal rankings, with 8 gold medals and 17 medals overall. In 2004 Hungary repeated its performance in Sydney–13th place, 8 gold medals, 17 medals overall. So it's no wonder that the Hungarian public is hoping for at least eight gold medals in Beijing. According to those who are more familiar with the international sports scene this figure is most likely too high. For the time being there is only one silver: László Cseh's second place behind Michael Phelps in the 400 m medley. Apparently there might be a chance for Cseh to get a second medal in 200 m butterfly, most likely again behind Phelps.

For the time being that's all, and the Hungarians are disappointed. Yet there has never been a greater interest in any Olympic games in Hungary. People are glued to their TV sets, watching events usually not aired in the U.S., for example judo and fencing. Some political analysts are happy about this new national pastime: here is something that all people, left or right, enjoy. Together they can root for the Hungarian athletes. This sounds idyllic, but I already see that if the Hungarians don't achieve the number of medals they are hoping for some people will try to find a scapegoat. Perhaps the government or the prime minister, although I understand that this government provided the most money ever to spend on the Olympics and that athletes who win medals will receive a handsome tax-free stipend. Meanwhile the fans hope that the number of medals will be forthcoming because Hungarians are strong in events that fall to the last few days of the game. I'm sure everybody in Hungary is keeping fingers crossed.

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Viking
Guest

Sorry to crash the Olympic part, but what the Hungarians, and the rest of the world, should be occupied with is how to counteract the Russian aggression in Georgia. Obviously Ukraine, with its Hungarian not so small minority, is next on the agenda.
Hungary should act swiftly and offer to prop up, with whatever, the Ukrainian defence possibilities. It is important to have foreign boots on the ground in Ukraine and also in Georgia, to rise the stake for the Russians.
Hungary should take the lead, then this is threating ethnic kin. Now it is the time to answer the call. Diplomacy needs supports by boots on the ground, even if it is just for show. No boots, send a signal of appeasement and defeatism, which we do not need in Europe anymore.

Viking
Guest

I am waiting for the obvious revelation – The Neanderthals were all Magyars!

Peter Crow
Guest

Lovely. I can’t get enough of them rabid loony right wingers.

Öcsi
Guest

Csak egy magyar really should call himself “Csak egy kis magyar.”

Öcsi
Guest

“Latod ocsi es a tobbiek;En nem a Soros fele agymosason mentem keresztul,hanem igazi tudomanyt tanultam.Es ez meg csak egy ici-pici pelda.
Really? It seems you got your “real” education from a 1912 pocketbook. And I’m sure you read all the right pamphlets too, so you are well equipped to argue politics and history. NOT!!!

Öcsi
Guest

“Okos enged, szamár szenved.” – you win!

Vladimir
Guest

If Hungarians want to pin their poor showing in the Olympics on the current gov’t are l-o-o-n-y. One of the beauties of sport is that regardless of how bad and/or corrupt management is, talent overcomes in sports that have objective measures. Brazilian football management is rife with corruption, but somehow they are THE footballing powerhouse and could probably field 3 football teams that qualify for the World Cup. Look at the neighboring countries of Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine. All of their federations are corrupt, and if there were any true measure, probably far more corrupt than Hungary’s football federation, but they get results.
I have an account that may be indicative of a troubled future for Hungarian athletics: a colleagues sister was a very promising athlete, but around 16 she rebelled so she could enjoy cigarettes, boys and summer parties that last late into the early morn that have been plentiful in many towns across post-change Hungary.

Adrian
Guest

More on school gyms:
I went to a minor public school in the UK, which was surrounded by five cricket pitchs, serving as 10 or so rugby/hockey pitches outside of the summer. It had a two gymnasiums, a swimming pool, an allweather hockey pitch, two squash courts, lots of tennis courts, and a rifle range.
I now teach in a Hungarian szakközépiskola, it is in the town centre has a gymnasium and a half-size tarmac football pitch. To my knowledge my alma mater has never anyone who went on to win an olympics gold medal. My employer has had three. School facilities don’t necessary result in sporting success.