For Agnes Keleti, the oldest living Olympic winner, the fondest memory of her impressive 100 yrs is only that she has lived by way of it all.
The Holocaust survivor and winner of 10 Olympic medals in gymnastics — which include 5 golds — celebrates her 100th birthday on Saturday in her indigenous Budapest, punctuating a everyday living of achievement, journey, tragedy and perseverance which, she states, passed by in a flash.
“These 100 a long time felt to me like 60,” she claimed at a celebration in Budapest on the eve of her birthday.
Leafing by a copy of a new guide about her existence — “The Queen of Gymnastics: 100 A long time of Agnes Keleti” — her trademark modesty was on complete screen.
“‘The queen of gymnastics,’” she stated, switching to English. And in Hungarian: “That’s an exaggeration.”
Keleti, who was born Agnes Klein in 1921, experienced her illustrious job interrupted by Globe War II and the subsequent cancellation of the 1940 and 1944 Olympics. Forced off her gymnastics team in 1941 for the reason that of her Jewish ancestry, Keleti went into hiding in the Hungarian countryside where she survived the Holocaust by assuming a bogus identity and working as a maid.
Her mother and sister survived the war with the support of famed Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, but her father and other kin perished at Auschwitz, amid the more than 50 percent a million Hungarian Jews killed in Nazi demise camps and by Hungarian Nazi collaborators.
Resuming her job after the war, Keleti was established to contend at the 1948 London Olympics but a last-moment ankle damage dashed her hopes. Four a long time later on, she made her Olympic debut at the 1952 Helsinki Online games at the age of 31, profitable a gold medal in the ground work out as nicely as a silver and two bronzes.
Even with her achievements — with 6 medals she was the most thriving athlete at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and she is acknowledged as a single of the most profitable Jewish Olympic athletes of all time — the even now-vivacious Keleti reported she most values her health and the straightforward actuality that she has lived.
“I enjoy everyday living,” she reported. “Health is the essence. Without having it, there is very little.”
In an interview with The Associated Press last 12 months, Keleti said the encounters she received while touring the planet had been much more precious to her than her 10 Olympic medals.
“I loved gymnastics since it was attainable to travel for free,” she reported.
These travels would in the end consequence in a nearly 60-year absence from her indigenous Hungary. At the age of 35, even though she was turning into the oldest gold medalist in gymnastics record in Melbourne, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary next an unsuccessful anti-Soviet uprising. Keleti remained in Australia and sought political asylum. She then immigrated to Israel the adhering to calendar year and worked as a trainer and coached the Israeli Olympic gymnastics group right up until the 1990s.
Soon after leaving Hungary for the Olympics in 1956, she frequented her indigenous state only after ahead of returning to Budapest in 2015.
Keleti was awarded the Israel Prize in 2017 — thought of that country’s maximum cultural honor — and is the receiver of various other prestigious awards, including currently being named just one of Hungary’s “Athletes of the Nation” in 2004. She retains person gold medals in the ground work out, harmony beam and uneven bars.
Currently, Keleti follows her doctor’s modern advice to stay clear of executing comprehensive leg splits, and her near-perpetual smile and infectious laughter are reminders that even in instances of fantastic hardship, there continues to be the immutable probable for perseverance and the pleasure of lifetime.
“I reside well, and it is terrific that I’m still healthy,” Keleti explained. “And I enjoy lifetime.”