Against all odds

“Citius, Altius, Fortius”, in other words “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. The ongoing Olympic games in Rio, like its predecessors, has seen many records created (& broken) and many heroes made. It’s no secret that the players competing in the Olympic games prepare for years and years for this event, and yet there are only a few winners.

I recently heard about one such winner from many years ago, whose tale is awe inspiring.

Karoly Takacs, at age 27, was a world class shooter, when he lost his right hand (his shooting hand) after a defective grenade exploded in his hand. Not giving up, he began to secretly train himself to shoot with his left hand & surprised everyone a year later by winning a national shooting championship.

All set to participate in the Olympic games in 1940 in Tokyo, he had to wait till 1948 to represent Hungary in the rapid-fire pistol event, since the games in 1940 and 1944 were cancelled because of the Second World War.

At the age of 38, in the 1948 Olympic Games, he not only won the Gold medal in the rapid-fire pistol event, but also set a new world record. He won a Gold medal in the next Olympic Games (1952) as well.

While he was neither the first physically disabled athlete to compete in the Olympic Games, nor the only one to have won multiple Gold medals, I found his story inspiring for three reasons:

  1. He did not give up shooting after losing his right hand
  2. He remained focus on his goal of becoming a world champion in spite of the delays
  3. And third is an incident I read about on the Olympic Games site…

Before the competition, the favourite, world champion and world record holder, Carlos Enrique Díaz Saenz Valiente, asked Takacs why he was in London. The Hungarian replied, “I’m here to learn.” Takacs won the gold medal and beat the world record by ten points.



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