ERIKA KOVÁCS from Tokyo 2021.07.27 18:03 Frissítve: 2021.07.27 18:06

Áron Szilágyi: I don’t want to be on cloud nine yet, I still have work to do

Áron Szilágyi will not allow himself to be immersed in success for the time being, as on Wednesday, he has an important task ahead of him: he is aiming for the (gold) medal with the saber team in Tokyo.

Áron Szilágyi became a 3-time Olympic champion (Photo: Magyar Nemzet/István Mirkó)

 

With your three Olympic titles, you've reached a height that we, ordinary people can't even see. What is it like up there?
– I have been spending my days trying to stay down to earth, and focus on Wednesday's team event – said Áron Szilágyi, who made history on Saturday by winning his third individual Olympic gold medal in saber. – I don't want to be on cloud nine yet; I still have work to do in Tokyo, but the wave of love that is pouring out towards me is amazing.

– Didn't you even read the congratulatory messages on your phone?
– I couldn't resist not do it because I'm also human. I glanced at my phone every now and then, but I really don't want to be immersed in success yet.

– Can you get your head around the fact you're a 3-time Olympic champion – particularly in saber fencing?
– I cannot. I have no strategy for what to do with this situation. You're taught how to fence, and even how to compete, but an athlete can't be prepared that they will become an Olympic champion – three times.

– Do you remember the moment at all when you learned that you won your third gold?
– I do. I remember the moments after the bout, which I experienced with my coach András Decsi. I'm very pleased that a few seconds later my masseur, József Bodnár, who predicted at the 2013 World Cup competition in Madrid that I would become a three-time Olympic champion, also became a part of this.

– Are you serious?
– Yes, I am. There in Madrid, Józsi said not only should we think about Rio, let's go to Tokyo as well! In Józsi's house, there's a picture on the wall of us standing there with the gold medal in London. On the other wall, there's another one that captures the moment in Rio, along with an empty picture frame...

– Which is getting the right picture to be put in.
– I'm very happy. I give this feeling some space.

 

Áron Szilágyi became a 3-time Olympic champion (Photo: Magyar Nemzet/István Mirkó)

With your three Olympic titles, you've reached a height that we, ordinary people can't even see. What is it like up there?
– I have been spending my days trying to stay down to earth, and focus on Wednesday's team event – said Áron Szilágyi, who made history on Saturday by winning his third individual Olympic gold medal in saber. – I don't want to be on cloud nine yet; I still have work to do in Tokyo, but the wave of love that is pouring out towards me is amazing.

– Didn't you even read the congratulatory messages on your phone?
– I couldn't resist not do it because I'm also human. I glanced at my phone every now and then, but I really don't want to be immersed in success yet.

– Can you get your head around the fact you're a 3-time Olympic champion – particularly in saber fencing?
– I cannot. I have no strategy for what to do with this situation. You're taught how to fence, and even how to compete, but an athlete can't be prepared that they will become an Olympic champion – three times.

– Do you remember the moment at all when you learned that you won your third gold?
– I do. I remember the moments after the bout, which I experienced with my coach András Decsi. I'm very pleased that a few seconds later my masseur, József Bodnár, who predicted at the 2013 World Cup competition in Madrid that I would become a three-time Olympic champion, also became a part of this.

– Are you serious?
– Yes, I am. There in Madrid, Józsi said not only should we think about Rio, let's go to Tokyo as well! In Józsi's house, there's a picture on the wall of us standing there with the gold medal in London. On the other wall, there's another one that captures the moment in Rio, along with an empty picture frame...

– Which is getting the right picture to be put in.
– I'm very happy. I give this feeling some space.


2012, 2016, 2021 – this is how Nemzeti Sport welcomed Áron Szilágyi’s Olympic titles on its cover page

When we talked after your victory, I made a mistake, because when you were talking about the fact that there is no paper form at the Olympics, I didn't seize on the opportunity to say that it does exist, and it's called Áron Szilágyi. You've already overridden all the laws in Rio, and even more here in Tokyo.
– But I'm not doing anything special. I can just concentrate well, and focus on the competition. I always felt and knew that the Olympics is different from other competitions, and we don't just have to fence here. I don't think I can fence better than anyone else in the field, because we know what South Korea's Oh Sang-Uk, Germany's Max Hartung, or András Szatmári can do... and the list could go on, but we need something else. This competition is a question of mind over matter.

A week and a half before the opening ceremony in Tokyo, there was a documentary about your past five years. Am I guessing right that this was part of your mental preparation?
– Correct. We were already talking about this during filming. When director András Muhi and I were thinking about whether there should be a premiere or not, I decided that I wanted to do it because I knew it would give me great strength if I left with the feelings I get there from my small fan base.

You've said many times that Viktória Faludi is helping your preparation. Can you tell me what your sports psychologist and you have come up for Tokyo?
– In the final stages of preparation, we wrote motivating phrases for each of the five bouts, and I had to recite them before each round. Thus, in hindsight, these terms were surprisingly apt.

– What words were they? What shall we think of – momentum, confidence?
– That's good! You guessed the epithet of the first bout, which was momentum.

– Will you reveal the rest?
– The five terms were momentum, confidence, patience, liberation, domination.

Incredible... I mean how determined you are.
– Still, I'm not perfect, either.

After your victory, someone commented that you are a true role model, but you have a big flaw.
– What is it? I'm curious about that.

– That you're a Bayern Munich fan.
– I told you no one is perfect.

Why Bayern?
– I primarily root for the Hungarians, but in terms of football, almost everyone chooses a team for themselves. I noticed the Bavarians in 1999. When I was nine, something happened, and I've been sticking by them ever since.

Speaking of perfection. Now tell me: do you ever get odious? Do you have enemies, can you hurt someone, or is the picture really that idyllic in every way?
– Why? Idyllic? Actually, I've been feeling for a while that I'm portrayed as unreasonably perfect, but I'm also a human who makes mistakes sometimes, who is happy, sometimes unhappy, who has friends but also has enemies.

And someone who has three Olympic gold medals: how would you describe your three victories in a short sentence?
– London is the youthful dynamics; Rio is the incredible consciousness; Tokyo is what could be more than the fulfillment of the dream.

And it's not over yet... It's not over yet, is it?
– Why would it be? On the one hand, we have the team competition ahead of us, in which we have the same big dreams with the guys as I had before the individual tournament. On the other hand, I find myself new goals. I'll go home, hug my wife, rest, and then I'll put my third Olympic gold medal on the table, and figure out what my next goals are.

Since his victory, Áron Szilágyi has been spending his days trying to stay down to earth and focus on the team bout (Photo: Magyar Nemzet/István Mirkó)
ON WEDNESDAY, THE CHAMPION WILL RETURN TO THE PISTE – NOW WITH HIS MATES

On Wednesday, we can root again for Áron Szilágyi (right), Tamás Decsi, Csanád Gémesi, and András Szatmári. The saber team has been returning home with medals from all world competitions since four years ago. They once won gold at the 2018 European Championships in Novi Sad.

The guys would improve this statistic, which they have every chance of doing. However, for this, they would have to "push" the South Koreans, who have been dominating for years, off the throne. Why couldn't it work, though?
"I hope that Áron's third Olympic gold medal, the fact that he has written sports history in Tokyo, will only make him stronger," said András Decsi, head coach of the men's saber team who's also Szilágyi's master. "I also hope that this success will strengthen the others in their belief that we have a good chance in the team competition." The Hungarian saber team will step onto the piste in Tokyo on Wednesday at 4.25am CET (Hungary time) against the United States. Since only eight teams have qualified for the Olympics (plus the host country), the stakes are already to get in the quarterfinals. 

Translated by Vanda Orosz

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