Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Young People,
We are here today to decorate the heroes of a landmark achievement in Hungarian sports history. We wish to thank you for the best Hungarian result ever in the Winter Olympic Games, and for the first Hungarian gold medal at the Winter Olympics. In recent weeks we have achieved outstanding results in areas and disciplines in which we had not succeeded before, and reached heights that we had never preciously conquered. Tímea Babos won the Australian Open in the women’s doubles, our short track men’s relay team obtained Hungarian sport’s first Winter Olympic gold medal, and thanks to Anita Márton, Hungary now has a world championship gold medal in athletics. The sensational success of the speed skaters was most probably achieved because you believed in it. And not only did you believe in it, you also worked hard for it. Everyone made their own contribution: athletes, coaches and members of the technical team alike. There were some who contributed their experience, others who contributed their exceptional expertise, and others still who added vitality and took their share of risks. And those who always work hard, to exacting standards, and are ready to give their all for a team will also eventually be rewarded with their share of good fortune. There are some who always seek safe and well-trodden paths. As you would perhaps say, who just keep to the track, and there are others who believe that obstacles are there to be overcome, who say let me play the lion too. The ideal of the Olympics is after all about them, it’s about you: faster, higher, stronger!
Victory and success are never granted to us Hungarians for free. They require faith, courage and determination. This is the Hungarian bravado which, thanks to you, the whole world has had the privilege to reacquaint themselves with. In recent years you, Dear Young People, together with the technical team that assisted your preparations and the Hungarian National Skating Federation, have built a new Hungarian success sport. And this is also true if there were already foundations on which you could build. Few people recall, but the first world champion of Hungarian sports, the entire spectrum of Hungarian sports, was a female figure skater, Lili Kronberger, who defended her title three times. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those who laid the foundations of short track speed skating in Hungary to enable you to take huge steps towards the summit. From the middle ranks to the European elite. From the European elite to being amongst the world’s frontrunners.
You have once again proven that we Hungarians are also capable of things with which we can thoroughly surprise the world. We’re not a winter Olympic superpower, but in speed skating this time we left the world trailing behind us. We competed with giants. And we did so despite the fact that our resources are quite simply not comparable with theirs. China is in the process of building two thousand indoor ice rinks, there are more than seven thousand indoor ice rinks in Canada, the United States is the world’s number one economy, Japan is the third, and in South Korea the number of short track speed skaters somewhere in the order of a hundred thousand. Let me mention a few facts about Hungarian reality. In Hungary there are a hundred and fifty registered short track speed skaters and twenty-two indoor rinks. Evidently, there is still progress to be made. The government would now like to assure that there is a minimum of one indoor ice rink in every city with county rank, and at least a dozen in the capital. Most recently, last Friday we inaugurated an indoor ice rink in Nyíregyháza, which the city built using TAO corporate tax benefit scheme funding, with the government only providing the necessary down payment. It has been proven once again that Hungarian sports and children involved in sports have benefited vastly from the introduction of TAO scheme. Our decision to elevate skating to the rank of sports that are awarded priority funding has also proven to be a good one. Prior to 2010, in the pre-national government era, the Hungarian National Skating Federation received annual funding of 70, that is seventy million forints, and today it is more than ten times that. I’m happy that our skaters have proven that this funding went to the right place.
We have also decided on the construction of a National Skating Centre, which will be on the Istvánmező (Stephen’s Field). We can safely say that it will be one of Europe’s most modern facilities with four ice hockey rinks, a 1,400-metre long track speed skating rink and a skating academy. With this we are following in the footsteps of our ancestors who, by constructing the City Park Ice Rink, built the continent’s first artificial ice rink at the end of the 19th century which, if my eyes don’t deceive me, is also the world’s most beautifully situated ice rink.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The tally of the latest Olympic Games is one gold medal, a fourth place, two fifth places and one sixth place, 15 Olympic points, and an infinitely likeable team. You not only won an unprecedented achievement Hungary, but also furthered our reputation in the world at large, and this is important for us Hungarians. An athlete at the Olympic Games is always also an ambassador of the country they represent. Thank you for having performed this task so outstandingly.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Young People,
I’d like to thank you once again for having dared to forge an ambitious plan, to dream that even we Hungarians can become a skating nation. Thank you for not only making such plans, but also seeing them through, for not only setting this goal, but also persevering until you finally achieved it. I’d like to thank everyone who took part in this historic success for their efforts, and I don’t just mean the enormous effort invested by athletes, coaches and experts. This achievement also required a sports-loving nation, which offered a secure foundation for the athletes’ preparations with its taxes and enthusiastic support. There is no exaggeration in the fact that the Hungarians always feel and state too that “we won, we won an Olympic gold medal”.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Over the course of eight years we have fought our way back to be among the top third of the world. We are achieving outstanding results in sports, the arts and science alike. It is well worth pursuing this path towards being among the world’s frontrunners.
Go for it Hungary, go for it Hungarians!