Olympic Games 2021 – Short stories of the Games: Karoly Takacs, right-handed and double Olympic champion, pulling with his left hand

If, for everyone, to pass the weapon to the left means to die, for Karoly Takacs it would rather be a rebirth. Here is the extraordinary story of a man who came back from everything, from the injustice of the military regime, to a terrible accident and a world war, to finally win two Olympic gold medals in pistol shooting … with his “bad” hand!

Karoly Takacs was born in Budapest in January 1910. Very quickly the young man turned to the army where he discovered a rare gift in the practice of shooting. He quickly arouses the admiration of his comrades and superiors, all of whom are surpassed by the precision and safety of his gesture. Quite naturally at the time, he was strongly expected to represent Hungary at the 1936 Olympics.

But he will come up against an obstacle against which his talent can do nothing: the implacable hierarchy of military regimes. Even if Sergeant Takacs is the best, by far, he must give up his place to a higher ranking than him to participate in the Berlin Olympics. Needless to say, the superior made no sparks on this occasion.

Aware of this aberration, the Magyar leaders remove this unfair provision and clear the way for their young prodigy sergeant in view of the next edition of the Olympics to be held in Tokyo in 1940. Unfortunately for the sniper, the latter is a victim of a terrible accident during a military exercise: a defective grenade literally tears off his right hand! If he survives this twist of fate, it is obviously the end of his sports career. Except no. Karoly Takacs is as naturally gifted as he is stubborn: in the greatest secrecy, he learns to shoot with his left hand! And what do you think happened?

The genius does not stop with a story of the left or the right. Genius has no meaning, it has no preference. A year later, in 1939, Takacs was national individual champion and world team champion. Her Olympic hour has finally come … well, she should have. The Second World War decides otherwise.

The Budapester may have achieved the feat of his life: surviving the biggest butchery in human history and the purges of the Hungarian army. Having overcome all these obstacles with courage, Takacs can finally touch his dream. Twelve years after the first Olympic meeting in which he should have participated, he finally represented his country at the London Olympics in 1948.

What is happening in the English capital confirms what we suspected: this man is not like the others. With a rapid fire pistol and at 25 meters, his discipline of choice, he shatters the world record by ten points! At 38, he has just taken a resounding revenge on fate and injustice. Takacs, so above the average person, even managed to keep his title four years later in Helsinki. From that time, all that remains today is this story worthy of Hollywood studios and an eternal nickname to recall who Karoly Takacs was: “the man with the golden hand”.

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