Keleti at the 1956 Olympic Games
January 9 1921
Ágnes Keleti (born January 9, 1921) is a retired Hungarian artistic gymnast. The winner of 10 Olympic medals including five gold medals, she is considered to be one of the most successful Jewish Olympic athletes of all time. She was the most successful athlete at the 1956 Summer Olympics.
Keleti is Jewish, and was born in Budapest, Hungary. She began gymnastics at the age of 4, and by 16 was the Hungarian National Champion in gymnastics. Over the course of her career, between 1937 and 1956, she won the Championships title ten times.
Keleti was considered to be a top prospect for the Hungarian team at the 1940 Olympics, but the escalation of World War II canceled both the 1940 and the 1944 Games. A member of the Jewish faith, Keleti was forced to go into hiding to survive the war. She purchased working papers and posed as a Christian maid in a village in the Hungarian countryside. Her father died in Auschwitz, and her mother and sister went into hiding, saved by Raoul Wallenberg. They were later discovered and sent to a concentration camp, but survived and were reunited with Keleti after the war.
After the war, Keleti resumed training. She qualified for the 1948 Summer Olympics, but was forced to miss the competition due to injury. She continued training and finally competed at the Olympics for the first time at the age of 31 at the 1952 Games. She earned four medals, including gold on the floor exercise and silver in the team competition, and bronze in the team-portable apparatus event and the uneven bars. Keleti continued on to the 1954 World Championships, where she placed first on the uneven bars.
At the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Keleti won gold medals in three of the four individual event finals: floor, bars, and balance beam and placed second in the all-around. The Hungarian team placed first in the portable apparatus event and second in the team competition. At the age of 35, Keleti became the oldest female gymnast ever to win gold. During the 1956 Olympics, the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. Keleti, along with 44 other athletes from the Hungarian delegation, decided to remain in Australia and received political asylum. Keleti emigrated to Israel in 1957, and was able to send for her mother and sister.
Following her retirement from competition, Keleti worked as a physical education instructor at the University of Tel Aviv and the Wingate Institute for Sport in Netanya. She also coached and worked with Israel's national gymnastics team well into the 1990s.
Keleti was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1981, the Hungarian Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2002.
|1952||Helsinki Olympic Games||2nd||3rd||3rd||1st|
|1954||Rome World Championships||2nd||1st||3rd|
|1956||Melbourne Olympic Games||2nd||1st||2nd||1st||1st||1st|
|Olympic Uneven Bars Champions|
|Margit Korondi • Agnes Keleti • Polina Astakhova • Věra Čáslavská • Karin Janz • Nadia Comăneci • Maxi Gnauck • Ma Yanhong | Julianne McNamara • Daniela Silivaş • Lu Li • Svetlana Khorkina • Émilie Le Pennec • He Kexin • Aliya Mustafina • Nina Derwael|
|Olympic Balance Beam Champions|
|Nina Bocharova • Agnes Keleti • Eva Bosáková • Věra Čáslavská • Natalia Kuchinskaya • Olga Korbut • Nadia Comăneci • Ecaterina Szabo | Simona Păucă • Daniela Silivaş • Tatiana Lysenko • Shannon Miller • Liu Xuan • Cătălina Ponor • Shawn Johnson • Deng Linlin • Sanne Wevers • Guan Chenchen|
|Olympic Floor Exercise Champions|
|Agnes Keleti • Agnes Keleti | Larisa Latynina • Larisa Latynina • Věra Čáslavská | Larisa Petrik • Olga Korbut • Nellie Kim • Nellie Kim | Nadia Comăneci • Ecaterina Szabo • Daniela Silivaş • Lavinia Miloşovici • Lilia Podkopayeva • Elena Zamolodchikova • Cătălina Ponor • Sandra Izbaşa • Aly Raisman • Simone Biles • Jade Carey|
|World Uneven Bars Champions|
|Vlasta Děkanová | Matylda Pálfyová • Anna Petersen | Gertchen Kolar • Agnes Keleti • Larisa Latynina • Irina Pervushina • Natalia Kuchinskaya • Karin Janz • Annelore Zinke • Marcia Frederick • Ma Yanhong • Maxi Gnauck • Gabriele Faehnrich • Dörte Thümmler | Daniela Silivaş • Daniela Silivaş | Fan Di • Kim Gwang-Suk • Lavinia Miloşovici • Shannon Miller • Luo Li • Svetlana Khorkina • Svetlana Khorkina | Elena Piskun • Svetlana Khorkina • Courtney Kupets • Chellsie Memmel | Hollie Vise • Nastia Liukin • Beth Tweddle • Ksenia Semenova • He Kexin • Beth Tweddle • Viktoria Komova • Huang Huidan • Yao Jinnan • Fan Yilin | Viktoria Komova | Madison Kocian | Daria Spiridonova • Fan Yilin • Nina Derwael|