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Hajós in Athens 1896
|Full name||Alfréd Hajós-Guttmann|
|Club||Magyar Testgyakorlók Köre|
Hajós was born in Budapest, Hungary, as Arnold Guttmann. He was 13 years old when he felt compelled to become a good swimmer after his father drowned in the Danube River. He took the name Hajós (sailor in Hungarian) for his athletic career because it was a Hungarian name.
In 1896, Hajós was an architecture student in Hungary when the Athens Games took place. He was allowed to compete, but permission from the university to miss class had not come easy. When he returned to the Dean of the Polytechnical University, the dean did not congratulate Hajós on his Olympic success, but instead said: "Your medals are of no interest to me, but I am eager to hear your replies in your next examination."
At the 1896 Games, the swimming events were held in the Mediterranean Sea battling the elements. The 18-year old Hajós won his two gold medals in extremely cold weather (the water temperature was about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, or 10 degrees Celsius) with 12-foot (4 m) waves crashing down on him. He won the 100 metre freestyle with a time of 1:22.2, and the 1,200 metre freestyle in 18:22.2. Hajós wanted to win all three distances, but the 500 metre freestyle was immediately after the 100 and immediately before the 1,200. Before the 1,200 metre race, he smeared his body with a half-inch (one centimetre) thick layer of grease, but it proved to be of little protection against the cold. He confessed after winning the race that, "My will to live completely overcame my desire to win." While at a dinner honoring Olympic winners, the Crown Prince of Greece asked Hajós where he had learned to swim so well. Hajós replied, "In the water." The next morning, the Athenian journal Acropolis depicted Alfréd with the subtitle: "Hungarian Dolphin". He was the youngest winner in Athens.
Prior to the Athens Olympics, Hajós was the 100 metre freestyle European swimming champion in 1895 and 1896.
A versatile athlete, he won Hungary's 100 metre sprint championship in 1898, as well as the National 400 metre hurdles and discus titles. He also played forward on Hungary's national soccer championship teams of 1901, 1902, 1903. Between 1897 and 1904 he was also a football referee, and during 1906 he was the coach of Hungary's national football team.
In 1924, Hajós, an architect specializing in sport facilities, entered the art competitions at the Paris Olympic Games. His plan for a stadium, devised together with Dezső Lauber (who played tennis in the 1908 Summer Olympics), was awarded the silver medal; the jury did not award a gold medal in the competition.
The best known sports facility designed by Hajós is the swimming stadion built on Margitsziget (Margaret Island) in the Danube in Budapest, which was built in 1930, and used for the 1958, 2006 and 2010 European Aquatics Championships, and the 2006 FINA Men's Water Polo World Cup.
In 1953, the International Olympic Committee awarded him the Olympic diploma of merit. He is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, and in 1981 he was also made a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Buildings designed by him
- Hotel Aranybika, Debrecen
- Lőcsey High School, Debrecen
- Protestant Church Centre, Budapest
- Újpest FC's UTE Stadium, Újpest, Megyeri ut (1922)
- Swimming Stadium, Budapest, Margitsziget (today it bears his name)
- Millenáris Sportpálya, Budapest XIV
- Sports ground, Miskolc
- Sports ground, Pápa
- Sports ground, Szeged
- Sports ground, Kaposvár
- Girls' School, Pozsony
- Népkert Vigadó, Miskolc, Népkert
- Swimbath, Szeged (Ligetfürdő, 1930)
- The Hajós Alfréd Társaság, the Alfréd Hajós Society
- Alfréd Hajós in International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame