Tuesday, February 18, 2014


I wonder if there is any town that is has produced as many successful sportspeople per head of population as Csikszereda.

Novak Edouard
I have gone on before about the ice hockey team and how they are the best in Romania  - well, they've been champions for the last seven years, and while this streak may well be ended this year by Brasov, the vast majority of Romania's national team hail from Harghita County and more specifically this town.  And while Romania's hockey team is not close to being the best in the world, they do reasonably well, and in the past have done extremely well.  Someone I consider a friend was on the team at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980, (the famous one in which the USA beat the USSR in what the US media referred to as "The Miracel on Ice"), at which they finished 7th.  Which is not to be sniffed at.

Tofalvi Eva
But, you may be thinking, ice hockey is a fairly niche sport in Romania and it's really only popular here, so that's not necessarily a big deal.  Obviously I'll have to come up with more sportspersons to convince you.  Well, how about Novak Edouard, Romania's only ever paralympic medalist and current World and Olympic champion in cycling?  (Who, in fact was a very fine young speed skater before the accident which cost him a leg and meant he ended up as a paralympian)

And then cast your eyes over to Sochi and the current Olympics going on there.  Featuring no fewer than 4 separate Szeredans.  Some of whom have done extraordinarily well, especially given the lack of funding and support that Romania offers to its athletes.  A quick listing of the results so far shows a genuinely superb set of performances:

Eva Tofalvi, biathlete
7.5km sprint - finished 22nd
10km pursuit - 26th
15km individual - 21st
12.5km mass start - 21st

Edit Miklos, alpine skier
Miklos Edit

super combined - 16th
downhill - 7th
super-g - 15th
giant slalom - 34th

Emoke Szocs, biathlete
7.5km sprint - 70th
15km individual - 70th

Zoltan Kelemen - figure skater
short programme - 24th
free programme - 23rd

Given the circumstances, these are truly brilliant results, and these people should be extremely proud of themselves.

[Note: Because the new Hungarian constitution allows anyone of Hungarian ethnicity to become a Hungarian citizen, two of the above athletes (Miklos and Szocs) have competed under the Hungarian flag rather than the Romanian. As I understand it they say it's because they felt they were offered more support by the Hungarian Olympic Committee, but (a) that wouldn't be difficult; and (b) personally I think that's a shame, and if people have to participate in the Olympics under a national banner I'd rather they would have done so under the Romanian one, but ultimately I'm counting them as "from Csikszereda" before anything else anyway.  And, if people actually paid any attention to the Olympic Charter this wouldn't be an issue anyway since it says
Article 6: The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.
But sadly everyone ignores that and makes it all about nationalism anyway.  I mean why - given the above - do we have a medals table?]

So, anyway, before we end up down the usual cul-de-sac of my standard rants about national identity, can anyone give me a town with a greater number of top athletes per head of population?