Diary

Memorable programs, memorable people

24 April 2019

The Three Geniuses

I remember how eagerly my entire family awaited forty years ago the TV broadcast of the table tennis matches of the world championship organised in Phenjan. Those days, everyone talked about how István Jónyer, Tibor Klampár and Gábor Gergely, disciples of coach Zoltán Berczik, won one match after the other, defeating even the undefeatable Chinese, twice in a row. The three Hungarian table tennis players wrote sporting history when they became world champions and earned great victory for Hungary.  Then, after twenty seven years, once again, Hungarian table tennis players stood at the top of the podium. Precisely while the table tennis world championship in Budapest was taking place, János and I hosted a dinner in honour of the athletes who defeated the entire world forty years ago. In the commemorative booklet received during the friendly encounter and signed by the gold medalists, Li Fu Jung, the late Chinese head coach wrote: ’Before the world championship, I was certain about the final victory of the Chinese national team. Of course, we knew the Hungarians but we were not particularly worried about them, since we could change the composition of our team at any moment, we had players of almost identical skills on our team, whereas Jónyer, Klampár and Gergely had to play throughout the entire world championship. I must admit, I did not think there would be problems, even when we lost, as a team. In the final, though, I felt right after the first match, when Gergely defeated Gou Yeohua, that we are having trouble. Unfortunately, I was right. The Hungarians deserved the victory. That day no-one could defeat them. They were unbeatable.’