According to index.hu, this year’s last big swimming competition, the Short Course World Championships will be held in the Canadian Windsor in the beginning of December. Katinka Hosszú, aka “the Iron Lady”, published a fed-up statement one day before the official announcement regarding the Hungarian team members. The Hungarian Swimming Federation claims to face Katinka’s accusations without understanding it.
Due to the declarations of Tamás Gyárfás, the president of the Hungarian Swimming Federation, the Iron Lady decided that it was time to speak up again. She tore apart the contract offered by the president in January, and now she went even further.
In her Facebook post she emphasized in advance that her preparation is still the most important thing, this is why she hadn’t reacted to the declarations of the president yet, but she decided that she couldn’t remain speechless anymore.
“I stand completely puzzled in front of Tamás Gyárfás’s declarations saying that everything is fine between the two of us. My relationship with the federation hasn’t changed. Tamás Gyárfas was the first to say that I should stop swimming and retire in 2008. If it was up to him, Hungary would’ve returned from Rio with three less gold medals and one less silver medal. I’ve been training on my own, without the help of the federation, since January.”
Katinka states that she was relieved to prepare for Rio without the help of the federation, because she was able to fully concentrate on her preparation, which luckily resulted in great achievements at the Olympic Games.
“Not only did the situation not change compared to last year, it even got worse since 2015. One year has passed, but we’re still right where we started. I frequently had to train in 0° Celsius degrees, in pouring rain and outdoor pools, but I wasn’t the only one. The conditions are still awful, the conditions of a professional preparation are not ensured in the swimming pools and land trainings. Everything is unpredictable due to the reconstructions, we cannot plan ahead. The Komjádi swimming pool in currently under its second renovation in the past one and a half year, which is a nonsense. Despite the renovation, there are still problems, which are also recognised by parents and children. It’s not true that these are the best days of Hungarian swimming. It just turned worse.”
The swimmer finds it unacceptable that the federation shows off with their results and hard work and that they claim that without them Budapest wouldn’t be the home of world competitions. Swimming and swimmers are not important. Everything comes down to interests.
“I find it unacceptable that Tamás refers to swimmers being difficult to deal with when they speak up against the unequivocally unserviceable system that ignores rules. It is outrageous that talented, successful swimmers have to worry about consequences if they speak up. But let me tell you that there are no consequences. The only reason Tamás Gyárfás sits in that chair is because we bring good results and because the majority of swimming clubs are in impossible situations. Votings neglect any type of democratic nature, quarters are decided by open votings by show of hands. So it’s not hard to imagine the number of people who may dare to oppose the system. Clubs have much more at risk at these elections than leading posts. Serious supports, fundings are at risk.”
Katinka states that the federation doesn’t only hold swimmers and clubs at check with its promises and threats. The preserving of thes situation of snakes and ladders is very important for them. The system and the old-fashioned methods simply don’t serve the interest of Hungarian swimming. They try to put across that there’s no life outside the system, and that nothing can work without the interference of the federation. The Iron Lady finds this ridiculous.
“I am the living example that there is life beyond the Hungarian Swimming Federation, in fact, that’s when life really starts.” She goes on with saying that she also has to think about her fellow swimmers and all the enthusiastic children and youngsters. “It is our responsibility to stand up for ourselves and future generation swimmers, because no one else will do this. We can’t let others manipulate us, make decisions concerning us without asking us, let it be about qualifications or anything else.”
She finally comes to the conclusion that, if swimming is actually important to Tamás Gyárfás, and if it is truly is a vocation for him, just like he says, then he should eliminate the most dangerous factor voluntarily. “He should eliminate himself and resign from his office!”
The federation claims that Katinka’s accusations are unfounded. “We find it grotesque that all this happens while there’s peace in the sport and everybody is trying to concentrate on their own job: swimmers swim, trainers hold trainings, and officers are working on sustaining and bettering the background as much as possible.”
They write in their announcement about how this relationship inflamed in last Ocotober, when Katinka Hosszú asked millions of forints for her appearance in the promotion film of the 2017 Aquatics World Championships. They remind us that they did everything for the Olympic champion: they helped her to find a sponsor when she returned from the USA and Tamás Gyárfás helped her with her Vasas contract. They also recall her request for a video analysing system, which they got hold of in vain.
“Encouraged by the Hungarian Olympic Committee, and despite the constant, discreditable criticism, the Hungarian Swimming Federation took a step back and avoided conflicts with the athlete-trainer couple in favour of the successes. The correctness of this decision was attested by the Rio successes. Tamás Gyárfás went on by praising Katinka’s performance in several interviews and emphasized that he was open to reconciliation. Other officers of the federation had a similar approach towards Katinka. András Hargitay invited Shane Tusup to the leading corporation of the trainers’ committee – he was left without answer.”
According to the federation, clubs get financial support based on ranking, which is made up by competition results, not interests. They also touch upon Shane Tusup. “It’s the gift of fate that Katinka Hosszú met Shane Tusup, with whom she achieved amazing successes in the last four years. However, besides the rightful acknowledgement of his achievements, more and more internationally acknowledged officers, organisers complain about his behaviour. The root of the conflicts is usually of financial origin. It’s a fact that professionalism has a place in the sport world, but Shane Tusup’s behaviour, style is becoming hardly acceptable for many.”
Meanwhile, other outstanding Hungarian swimmers, like Dániel Gyurta, Boglárka Kapás, Péter Bernek, Dominik Kozma and the Verrasztó siblings, stood up for Katinka, as they see her letter making sense.
Photos: MTI, www.facebook.com/KatinkaHosszú
Copy editor: bm