FOR THE RECORD: 1988 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (200m backstroke), silver (100m backstroke); 1992 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 400m IM); 1996 OLYMPIC GAMES: gold (200m backstroke), bronze (400m IM); TWO WORLD RECORDS: 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke; 1991 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (100m backstroke, 200m backstroke); 1994 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (200m backstroke); 1989 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: silver (400m IM);1991 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 400m IM); 1993 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 200m butterfly, 400m IM); 1995 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: gold (200m backstroke, 400m IM).
Only one other athlete had ever won an
Olympic gold medal in each of three successive Olympic Games (Dawn Fraser of
Australia in 1956, 1960, 1964, 100m freestyle) when Krisztina Egerszegi did it
in the 200m backstroke in 1988, 1992 and 1996. Not only did she win the Olympic
200m backstroke an unprecedented three times, she also won gold medals in the
100m backstroke and 400m I.M. In addition, she started her string of victories
as the youngest swimming Olympic gold medal winner of all time at the age of
Krisztina's international competition
began at the top at the 1988 Seoul Olympics where she won the 200m backstroke
gold in Olympic Record time of 2:09.29 over Katherin Zimmerman and Cornelia
Sirch of the German Democratic Republic. She placed second in the 100m
backstroke to Kristin Otto (GDR). For the next six years, she would lose the
200m backstroke race only once. This occurred at the 1989 European Championships
in Bonn, when Dagmar Hase (GDR) and Otto out touched her in the 200m and 100m
backstrokes respectively. It was the last year that the East German athletes
were to swim under the banner of their country.
For the next three European
Championships in Athens (1991), Sheffield (1993) and Vienna (1995), Krisztina
won every race she entered which included the 100m and 200m backstroke, 200m
butterfly and 400m individual medley. She became the master of the new, no-hand
touch, the 1991 backstroke turn-rule change which eliminated the requirement of
swimmers touching the wall with their hand on every turn. In 1991 at the
European Championships, she broke Ina Kleber's (GDR) 100m backstroke World
Record which had been set 7 years earlier in 1984 and Betsy Mitchell's (USA)
200m backstroke World Record set in 1986. Her 200m backstroke World Record of
2:06.62 set in Athens in 1991 still stands today, 10 years later.
Krisztina became the "Queen"
of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when she was the only female athlete to win three
individual events - 100m and 200m backstroke and 400m I.M.. She was only the
third swimmer in history behind Debbie Meyer (USA)(1968) and Janet Evans
(USA)(1988) to win three individual events at one Olympic Games. Her 200m
backstroke time remains an Olympic Record today. Four years later in 1996, at 22
years of age, she returned for another Olympics in Atlanta winning the gold for
the third time in the 200m backstroke and a bronze in the 400m individual
Her national team coach, Tamas Szechy,
says she was a hard worker. She was Swimming
World's World Female Swimmer of the Year (1991) and European Female Swimmer
of the Year (1990, 1991, 1992).
Krisztina never liked to predict her
future, but through her competitiveness, tenacity, love for her sport and five
Olympic gold medals later, she made her own place in it.
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