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The Man who Defied his Destiny

The Man who Defied his Destiny

You are an ace pistol shooter slogging to make come true your dream of an Olympic gold. Barely months before the Olympics, a grenade explodes in your right hand, shattering along with it your Olympic Dream. Now, what do you do? Read on what Károly Takács a sergeant in Hungarian army did…

In 1938, 28-year-old Károly was not only the top pistol shooter of Hungary but also the top contender for gold medal at the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games. However, his Olympic dream was shattered into pieces when a hand grenade exploded in his right hand, at an Army training session.

However, his Olympic dream was shattered into pieces when a hand grenade exploded in his right hand, at an Army training session.

Two courses were available to him: the easier one and the more travelled was to drown himself in the fathomless abyss of self-pity and fade into oblivion. The other less popular and seemingly impossible was to pick himself up and resume the chase for the gold.

He tried both and chose the one which is the favourite of a miniscule minority.

Károly spent a month in hospital, nursing his wound, lamenting his fate and wallowing in depression and got soon bored with it. In fact, by the time of his discharge from the hospital he was fairly convinced that trying to seek answer to ‘Why Me’ was a futile quest. So, he decided to resume the golden chase, much against the God’s will, as the later events showed.

Instead of focusing on what he had lost, a world class right shooting hand, Károly decided to focus on what he still had – his left hand. Despite the pain he had to undergo, despite the fact that he was not left-handed, he started practicing with his left hand, although mostly in secrecy.

One year later, in the spring of 1939 Károly showed up at the Hungarian National Pistol Shooting Championship. When his colleagues complimented him on his courage to come up at the championship to cheer for them, Károly surprised them by telling he was there to compete with them, and later, shocked them by winning the title.

But Fate had much worse in store for Károly: there were no simply no Olympics in 1940 and 1944 due to WW-II. It looked like Károly’s Olympic Dream would remain only a dream. But unfazed Károly kept training and in 1948 he qualified for the London Olympics. At the age of 38, he won the Gold Medal and set a new world record in pistol shooting. Four years later, at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics Károly won the Gold Medal again.

Naturally, he is a national hero in Hungary. Sadly, he is virtually unknown elsewhere.

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