It was a big week for summer sports in Hungary as Budapest Municipal Council voted in favour of bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, our men’s water polo team embarked on the first foray to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and some of Hungary’s finest athletes did the country proud at the first European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan.
This quirky sports festival, which sees athletes compete in such non-Olympic sports as karate, beach football and sambo (a type of wrestling event that is really only popular in Russia), has seen some odd results as well. For example, host Azerbaijan – not known as a traditional European sporting powerhouse – currently sits second on the medal table with 39 medals; that’s more than Germany, the United Kingdom and France.
This is the same country that has never finished higher than 30th on the Summer Olympics medal table (15th in Europe) and really only competes highly in combat events such as wrestling or judo. Yet with athletes with such traditional Azerbaijani names as Renara Hayes, Mariya Stadnyk and Oleg Stepko – none of whom are Azerbaijani by origin – the host nation has had much to cheer about.
So too have Hungarian athletes, who have performed well in a number of events, especially on the water in the canoeing and kayaking regattas.
Just as the country moves forward with its dream to host the largest summer sporting festival in the world, Hungarian athletes are proving once again why this proud nation is home to some of the finest athletes in the world.
Much has been made out of the fact that Hungary is the only nation in the top 12 on the all-time Summer Olympics medal table to have never hosted a Summer Olympics. With the city hosting the FINA Aquatic World Championships in 2017 and the continued success of Hungarian athletes at major sporting competitions, the country may yet make a strong case for the 2024 Olympiad.
Led by three-time Olympic champion Zoltán Kammerer and two-time Olympic champion Danuta Kozák, the Hungarian team dominated on the water in Baku, earning medals in 10 of 15 canoeing and kayaking events, among them five gold.
The Hungarian team has also been strong on the mat – be it of the wrestling or gymnastics variety. A strong performance by the wrestling team saw three athletes win medals, including gold for Emese Barka and European Championship runner-up Marianna Sastin.
The Hungarian acrobatic gymnastic team provided a championship moment after defeating Romania and Spain to take home the first-ever European gold medal in this non-Olympic event. Only a few days of competition remain. Here’s what to look for in the last week of the first European Games.
Friday, June 26: European champion and Olympic runner-up Miklos Ungvari takes to the mat in the Judo tournament. Preliminary matches begin at 6am with the medal events set to begin at 2pm.
Saturday, June 27: Hungary has a fine history in the pool at major sporting competitions, and the European Games are your chance to see the best of the country’s up-and-coming swimmers. Swimming competitions take place all day, but try to catch the Hungarian men’s 4×100 medley event at 4.44am.
Sunday, June 28: It’s the last chance for Hungarian athletes to take home medals from the first European Games, so the competitions will be extra heated today. Tune in at 3pm for the Closing Ceremony to see Azerbaijan say farewell to over 6,000 athletes from the 50 European countries that took part in this historic sporting festival.