One of the most special starters of the four-day Gróf Szévhenyi István Memorial was Hungarian Olympic silver medallist judoka, Miklós Ungvári. He has already proven himself in the equestrian sport, namely in endurance riding, finishing third in the 2018 National Endurance Riding Championship. This time he decided to compete in show jumping, which proved a good decision.
Several Olympians have started in this competition, but unlike the others you participated in the Olympic Games not as a rider but as a judoka. How did riding come into the picture?
Miklos Ungvari: I come from a family of ten children and we didn’t have a car but owned horses at the time. Of course, not valuable warmbloods but coldbloods for working. My younger brother and I are still in love with horses. So that must be the reason why I started to practice horse riding in my free time. Judo takes place in an institutional framework, the powers of nature do not impact the sport as they do endurance riding, for example, where you have to face the wind, rain or sun and spend as much as 7 or 8 hours in the saddle and the rider is not the priority in this discipline, but the horse. A harmonious bond needs to be created between horse and rider, which I really liked.
You’ve already proven yourself in endurance riding and won a bronze medal in the Hungarian National Championship. When did you switch to show jumping? What are your plans?
Miklos Ungvari: I wouldn’t say I switched because I competed in show jumping 5 years ago, only my horses got too old to compete. Imre Domina, founder of the Paci Doki Foundation, taught me the basics and later I continued with coach János Hargitai who made me love show jumping. It is a great honour for me to take part in the Széchenyi István Memorial. Today I am here thanks to László Tóth Jr., who supported my preparation and lent me his horse, Toll Forgó. Before the start I was almost as excited as in London at the Olympic finals. There’s a lot of work in the 60 seconds riders spend on the track so I hardly can bear when a bar falls because of my fault.
You started your first international tournament with a brilliant second place in the VIP tour. Did you expect this result? How satisfied are you with your achievement?
Miklos Ungvari: I think real sportsmen are always perfectionists and want to win but after finishing second and seeing the joy on László’s face, it gave me real happiness and satisfaction. He said before the end of the competition that I will be either first or second and finally I finished second. After a long break and only three weeks of preparation, I am glad to be able to ride here and finish on the podium. I would like to thank László Tóth Jr. for the preparation and support and my fans who came today to the National Riding Hall to cheer me on.
Those interested can also follow the event from the comfort of their home. Major competition events will be broadcasted on the Hungarian television channel M4 Sport. The competition events are broadcast live by Riderline:
Written by: Virág Szalontai
Photo: CSIO Budapest / Hajdu Krisztina