I was proud of Kecskemet’s youth
He led the Kecskemét delegation at the International Children’s Games for the third time. What is the purpose of this contest?
On June 5, 1968, the first International Children’s Games were held in Celje, Slovenia, where boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 15 met in a sports competition, at the initiative of a physical education teacher. The participants of the first event agreed that the happy future of children largely depends on mutual understanding, tolerance and respect, as well as on the recognition that sport plays a particularly important role in relations between states, and launched the International Children’s Games. Since then, more than 50 cities in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia have hosted unforgettable and successful Summer and Winter Games. Interestingly, the 46th International Children’s Games were also held in Daegu in 2012. At the current meeting, competitions were organized in eight sports – athletics, swimming, football, basketball, volleyball, table tennis and taekwondo. About 1,800 participants from 86 cities of 50 countries took part in the Games.
Several cities of Hungary participate in sports meetings. What cities started the current ICG?
Young athletes from three Hungarian cities – Sopron, Szombathely and Kecskemet – have been participating in the International Children’s Games (ICG) for a long time. I headed the Kecskemét delegation for the third time. In 2016, I was the head of delegation in Taiwan’s capital Taipei, in 2019 in Ufa, Russia, and now in Daegu, South Korea. Next year, the Children’s Games will be held in Leon, Mexico.
How do they choose which sports the Keskimite youth can compete in?
Kecskemét always depends on the type of competition you start, primarily in teams, and where the highest level of competition can be expected in terms of the host city and host country sport. Coventry footballers won last year, and this year they won silver medals. It is difficult to classify the participants in the various team sports, because everyone wants to travel to such exotic locations.
How was the organization? Was there a program that you started as head of the delegation?
The delegation traveled to South Korea on a direct flight of the Polish airline LOT. Daegu organizers welcomed us and all the groups already at Incheon International Airport near the capital, Seoul, where everything went smoothly. The distance between Seoul and Daegu is 320 km, which the bus covered in about 5 hours, because it had to go through the capital. Daegu is the fourth largest city in South Korea. The delegation leaders were housed in a downtown hotel, and the athletes, coaches, and team captain lived on a university campus. Our plane arrived on Tuesday, but the Games only started on Thursday with the ceremonial opening, so there was time to acclimate and the athletes could train. Our team leaders used this to tour Seoul and visit the Hungarian Embassy, where the Ambassador greeted us.
What is the quality of competitions?
The grand opening ceremony was held on Thursday. It’s always a big show, with a serious show, like the Olympics. The competitions began on Friday and continued until Sunday evening. For me the table tennis was absolutely amazing because the 15 year old Asian played table tennis at a high level which was amazing to watch. We had two table tennis players, Jenny Johanna and Chinese Hungarian Li Xiang, who held their ground, but were unable to beat their Asian competitors.
– I arrived at the Athletics Stadium, which is a 66,000-capacity football and athletics stadium, which hosted the 2011 World Championships in Athletics for Adults. It was an experience to compete in it and to sit as a spectator. Adamik Zoli’s athletes performed very well. Luka Takacs, almost the youngest girl, won a bronze medal in the high jump and a silver medal in the long jump. Szonja Domokos won a bronze medal in the 800-meter flat, while Kis Roland won a silver in the B-final of the 100-meter flat.
– Meanwhile, the football players gently walked to the finals, because they reached the semi-finals with one draw and three victories, where they definitely beat the Romanian team Medias. In the final, they lost to the Polish City Plock team and won the silver medal. On the first day, one of the boys injured his knee, had to take him to the hospital and they wanted an operation right away. In the end, it didn’t, but his knee was fixed and he was out of the game. On the second day, even during the group matches, another boy was injured and he was also unable to play. After that, the team had to play without substitutes, because 8 players could be named and teams of 6 players could play. Despite this, the team managed to win the semi-final, but at the time of the final they were tired. In swimming, Aliz Szilvási-Hazag and Diána Czeglédi participated, both winning bronze medals. The beautiful shiny Alize won the 200m butterfly and Diana the 50m backstroke.
In a city larger than Budapest, what is the distance between the different competition venues?
Daegu is a city with a population of 2.5 million. The campus was on the outskirts of town, and the central location was a 40-minute drive away. The athletics stadium was in the other direction, also 40 minutes away. The pool was also accessible in the third direction, also a 40 minute journey. The various sites were linked by shuttle buses, but due to the long distances and heavy traffic, it took an hour and a half to travel between campus and each competition site. It was a pity that the teammates who hadn’t played at the time couldn’t cheer, and the team leaders couldn’t appear in several locations in a short time either.
How much has the hot weather in South Korea hampered the athletes?
The weather was brutal with the temperature at 35 degrees and the humidity at 98 percent. On Friday, it rained like I had never seen before in my life. Literally, as if water had been poured over a person’s head from a bucket. It rained all day, but the races went on all day. By the next day all had been settled, much of the water had been drained, and the competitions were unaffected.
How does the Kecskemet delegation fit into the multi-ethnic “Olympic” village?
Basically, all members of the Hungarian team, consisting of 13-15 years old and coaches, behaved exemplary. The four coaches also directed the competitors entrusted to them in an exemplary manner. The guys were coherent, disciplined and responsive. Among the Hungarians, the people from Kecskemet were the most friendly, and they were the most popular. We were proud of them. There was a healthy balance of discipline, grit, focus on results and sportsmanship.