Hungary's five-time Olympic gold medallist Agnes Keleti received the Israel Prize for Sport and Physical Culture, the state’s highest honor, on May 2 in Jerusalem. The 96-year-old Olympic legend is considered as the founder of gymnastics in Israel.
The Israel Prize is awarded by
the state to people or organisations who have displayed excellence in their
field or made major contributions to Israeli culture. Keleti is one of the
founders of Gymnastics in Israel, where she has lived since 1957. Her
involvement as a coach and mentor of the Israeli national team spanned more
than 50 years.
The International Gymnastics Federation quotes a statement by the Israeli Education Ministry as saysing that "Keleti is a unique
woman, powerful and brilliant. A groundbreaking woman, a leader and a role
model among all her students in Israel and abroad, who made history and is
living among us,”
Ágnes Keleti began practicing the sport seriously in 1935, when she was 16. Before it
was cancelled due to World War II, she was considered a top prospect for the
1940 Olympic Games.
She used forged papers to
survive the Holocaust, working as a maid and in a factory. In 1946, she won her
first Hungarian national championship, a title she would successfully defend
for the 10 following years. An injury kept her out of the 1948 Olympic Games,
but she persisted. In 1952, at 31, she made her Olympic debut at the Helsinki
Games, winning four medals, including gold on floor exercise.
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