Road to Rio: Miklos Ungvari, Flight: HU2014 - BR2016

We continue to travel around Europe to see how our Judoka are preparing for the next two years... The qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics will soon begin. This week we went back to Hungary to visit Miklos Ungvari, who's middle name certainly should be 'The perpetual motion'.... Judo, skiing, horse-riding, wakeboard, rally... You name it - Ungvari does it.
by Szandra Szögedi I arrived front of a gate with the Olympic Rings on it...Yes, you would think you got lost too, but not at all... It looked like the front of any Olympic office or anything like that. It was a front gate of the house of a great champion, Miklos Ungvari, who started judo at the age of 9, in his birth city, Cegled. Ungvari: "I was very active already as a child and my mum couldn't handle me anymore." Miklos was the first boy in the family and since he has four elder sisters, his mum first took him to traditional Hungarian dance with his sister, but that wasn't enough to reduce Miklos' energy, and it was also out of his interest. "I saw a Judo advertisement in the local paper so I have asked mum to take me there...when I saw Judo at the first time, I knew, this is it." Judo means a lot to one and others. The London Olympic Silver medallist expressed his feelings about Judo. Ungvari: "Well, first I wasn't born in the capital so I am not a city boy. Cegled was a small town, almost like a village at the time of my childhood. Besides that, we are ten brothers and sisters in total, so my parents had a lot to work for. I recon I would be a village boy, or perhaps a car engineer, or something like that, if it wasn't for Judo. Don't get me wrong I am proud to be Hungarian and I am proud of where I am from but there is no harm in admitting that judo gave me loads more than I could ever imagine for. I have told many people that if I haven't had judo and the people I have been surrounded by throughout my career, I would not became the person I am now. Such a thing for example as going to university wouldn't be part of my life if judo doesn't come around....All in all, I think it is safe to say that judo gave me a life to live, of course I put an enormous amount of effort into it to be where I am today. “ Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it. Surely, not the first time we all come across with these words. Some only dreams to be there once, while some gets to experience it at many occasions. Miklos Ungvari begin to pursue his Olympic journeys in 2004 Athens, and since then he always secured a ticket for himself at the following Mega-Events. Ungvari:"To be fair, the term 'Olympics' only got really into me at the Beijing Games. That’s where I realised, that a dream or 'the dream' I had from age of 9, has actually became reality." - recalls the 3 times European champion, while digging out for more memories..."It was at the time of the 1992 Olympics after Hungary returned with the medal shower, when I began to understand what was my dream about in a realistic world and thats when I set my target that I am not only aiming to be an Olympian but an Olympic medallist." The Hungarians have a saying: 'The Hungarian Justice is three, plus one as an addition'. The origin of the quote goes back to the old age and the nation tends to use it in all sort of different situations in life. For example, it expresses similarity with 'never give up', so when something doesn't work twice try it one more time and you should succeed. However if not, try it just one more time and you will definitely succeed. Whether purposely or not, Miklos is certainly lives the expression. He won the Silver medal on his third Olympics, yet he is not stopping...going for one more, the last one. But let’s put the history and the Hungarian habits on the side. I have asked Miklos to reflect back to the last 12 years and explain to me what happened in Athens and Beijing? Ungvari: "Hmmmm, it begins with the fact that Antal Kovacs was my role model and I could not see less than an Olympic Gold and I wanted it so badly, almost desperately, I think thats where I went wrong. Than later I had to realise that its not everyone, in fact only one in every four years gets to go home with that precious gold. I understood that to win any coloured medal on that special day we always dream of, is also an indescribable feeling. There is nothing like accomplishing your dream and I am thankful that I get to experience it." So another dream has been pursued. Besides the Olympic Silver, Miklos' has an endless list of achievements, yet he is not finished. There is another hidden target to hit. MU: "Well, there was only one person who represented Hungary at four Olympic Games in Judo, and that was Antal Kovacs, who is also our only one and ever gold medalist. I could not catch up with the colour of his medal (or not yet) but I can certainly follow him by became the second Hungarian Judoka to represent our nations at four Olympics Games." This is still not it, the ever smiling gentleman always had an exemplarily pride of his representative country, and those know him a little more, would certainly agree. Besides, marking his name behind his childhood role model, Miklos also has a message he would like to prove across the world. "I would like to show that judo is not only to be done until we are in our 20s, but can peak in our 30s too. People often say things like Judo is up to a certain age..., yes it is but we all have our peak at the different age. Nevertheless, I am going for Rio just purely for the love of Judo too. I love it and I love being busy and always doing something.” When Ungvari says he likes to be busy, I guarantee he means it. Judo, skiing, horse-riding, wakeboard, rally... You name it - he does it. Off the mat, Miklos keeping busy with his many hobbies, and even competing in some of them. So what’s the favourite number two after judo? "If I am not on the mat than I am most likely to 'be doing horse-riding. My parents owned a few horses so my passion for horse-ridding began at a very young age, but I only started to take serious trainings around the age of ten, and only began to compete in my 20s." Running around, taking phone calls and trying to pack his bag... After returning from skiing he was packing to head out for the famous Dakar Rally. Oh no, it was not part of his holiday plan. Miki was heading out as part of the Hungarian Rally team, filling out the navigator position. I couldn't resist but to ask, where did the love of Rally come from? "Ha-ha, love of Rally" - he laughed. Ungvari: "It actually happened very randomly. First, I met Sandor Sebesteny just over a year ago, who has won Dakar several times, and later on he introduced me to Jozsef Bognar who is the navigator from previous Rally. We began to follow each other's career and soon became great friends. One day we had a dinner where we were joking with the idea of me joining the team at the next upcoming Dakar Rally. What started as a joke has became reality, and the next thing I know I have my plane ticket for the 2014 Dakar Rally as one of the navigators." No doubt, Miki loves competing not only on the mat but off the mat too. A professional athlete is always under a certain amount of pressure to perform in their chosen sport. Winning is a constant need and strive in any players' life. Psychologists often recommend to take on hobbies to ease up the pressure on the daily basis. Miki certainly has enough hobbies to choose from. Moreover, he competes in some. Can he cope with the eager to win and just enjoy the activity as a hobby? MU:"When your profession is being an elite athlete it is really difficult to get rid of the 'want to win' feelings. I remember even when we were kids, we used to play board games and we would end up arguing by the end because none of us wanted to loose, we just couldn't handle to loose the game. It is the same with horse riding, I am trying to enjoy it as a hobby, which of course doesn't work every time. Therefore, I have decided to set myself realistic targets when I am doing any of my hobbies, so that I can enjoy it while achieving." Most of Miklos' hobbies are pretty dangerous, and in case of injury it could really put him off the mat for a while. Injury is something nobody likes to have and everybody wants to avoid. I wasn't hesitating to ask Miki, if the level of the risks he is taking with his hobbies have ever crossed his mind? "The word 'fear' doesn't exist for me and I don't like sentences which begin with 'why..' or 'not'. In my opinion, its psychology. If that was the case we could get injured just by walking on the road. Fear is definitely doesn't appear in my life, I just can’t see the point of having it." Back to Judo! After the London Olympics, Miklos soon made his depute in his new weigh category, U73. On his way to Rio he will have to excel against players who have years of experience in this weight class. "I know I managed to defeat some of the big names in the new weight category but we have to stay realistic; I still have a loads to work on." What do you need to be focused on the most throughout the qualification to see you on an Olympic podium once again? Ungvari: "My weight is still too low, and especially with the new, night before weigh in system it is not for my advantage. I believe my years of experience will help me to maintain a good level until I catch up with certain areas I have to, so that I can be on the top." After Rio... What are your plans when you decide to leave your gi on the hangers one day? MU: "I can hardly imagine my life without judo, and therefore I think it is hard to fall out of it. I had hell loads of thought on it... and I guess I am not the only one. I have plans and I always make sure my life runs well in case I have to say good bye to the dojo one day. There are other challenges in life outside of the dojo which I am looking forward to take on." Ungvari's three wishes: "Let’s just say nothing more important in life than to be healthy, so that is defiantly in the top three." Also watch an Hungarian video of Ungvari with more views on his marvelous house. Find it in our Judo at School page: Your Olympic qualification story online? Share it with our fans and our Olympic road reporter Szandra Szögedi photos by



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