The ones keeping the fire alive

MOA, Kiemelt hírek|2019.10.01. 09:40

More than 100 collector enthusiasts from 10 countries proudly presented their treasures at the XXI International Collectors Meeting on Olympism and Sport in Budapest, Hungary, organised by the Legacy and Memorabilia Subcommittee of the Hungarian Olympic Committee's Ferenc Mező Sport Committee and the Hungarian Olympic Committee on 28 September.

"Welcome to the XXI International Collectors Meeting. Let me greet the honorary guests who graced us with their presence: Bálint Vékássy, Secretary-General of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, Dr. András Bodnár, Olympic Champion water polo player who has been organising this event together with MOB for years, Károly Majsai, four-time Paralympian table tennis player with a silver and a bronze medal under his belt, and last but not least Béla Hóbor, top first referee and the world's best referee in volleyball in 2012" said Béla Győr, Hungarian Olympic Academy Secretary-General, in his ceremonial opening speech who then gave the floor to MOB Secretary-General Bálint Vékássy.

Bálint Vékássy emphasized the importance of the event by saying to those in attendance that "you are the ones that keep this fire burning when the flames of Olympic multisport events are not burning, so thank you for your obsession and love towards Olympic heritage". The second-in-command also stressed that it is a special day as there are only 300 days left until Tokyo 2020 and Hungary has secured more than 60 quotas already and is doing much better in the run-up to the next Olympiad than previously, so the management is hopeful that the country will be represented by more Olympic athletes than in Rio 2016.

Dr. András Bodnár stressed in his speech that "you [the enthusiasts] are the link between past, present and future" so it is important to keep the passion and this profession alive.

Many interesting and colourful faces gathered together at the event, take the two oldest collectors in the whole of Europe for example, the 90 years old Tamás Borovicz from Hungary and the 88 years old Pavol König from Slovakia.

Tamás Borovicz, the proud owner of 18 Olympic uniforms, more than 1,000 pins and such legendary memorabilia as the signed gloves of famous Hungarian boxer László Papp, began his journey when a member of Olympians returning from the 1948 Games randomly put a pin on the collar of Borovicz. From then on there was no stopping, collecting signatures, pins and anything related to athletes and Olympians became his obsession. He also travelled to 5 Olympic Games at his expenses. He closed his monologue when we asked him about how he started by saying "as long as I live, I will spread the values of Olympism".

The Slovak Pavol König was a former athlete and footballer who went on to win two championship titles with his team FK Inter Bratislava in 1972 and 1975. Even to this day he is active and works as an advisor to the team. The two veterans, König and Borovicz are bound by a friendship and mutual interest in collecting spanning more than half a century. He began his hobby as an active athlete in 1962 when he first received his SK Rapid Wien pin and just like in the case of Borovicz, it became his obsession. For 25 years starting from 1989, he even pursued this calling professionally and created a plethora of pins himself.

Zdenko Kríž, Vice President of the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee and President of the Slovak Table Tennis Federation started as a young journalist who received pins at every competition he went to. During the span of 30 years he managed to accrue a collection comprising 10,000 Olympic and table tennis themed pins. He knows Venus Williams among his friends as well, bound by a love for exchanging pins. He says there are many friendships made through the friendly exchange of Olympic collectibles. The Slovak gentleman speaking 7 and understanding 9 languages has been at the helm of his country's Table Tennis Federation for an astounding 36 years now, so his commitment to the love of sport and Olympism is unquestionable.

László Gergely Jr. hailing from Transylvania owes the obsession to his father which then spread onto his son who started by collecting signatures and pins from English football clubs. In only two decades he managed to collect around 26,000 pins and signatures with the help of his immense mail list consisting roughly 400,000 email addresses. Talk about fanatism!

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