Hungary has produced quite a few champion swimmers over the years,but none have captured the public imagination as much as Olympic gold medallist Krisztina Egerszegi.

Hailed as "Queen Krisztina" by the whole nation, Krisztina Egerszegi inspires unbelievable affection - perhabs because all of Hungary has watched its favourite swimmer develop from a skinny teenager into a pretty young woman over the past decade and become a five-time gold medallist at tree Olympics.

Krisztina Egerszegi was born in Budapest on 16 August 1974. Her father Janos Egerszegi gave her the most encouragement to pursue a swimming career. She was a wonder child that became the darling of the nation when she won a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics. Naturally her life revolves around the swimming pool, and some of her closest friends are her fellow Hungarian team members. One of her hobbies is collecting little lucky charm animals. And she has been a keen driver ever since she passed her driving test. She spends a lot of time at her family's weekend house, and she loves travelling, though she has little time left after all her training and racing.


1988. Olympics - 200 m backstroke (Gold Medal), 100 m backstroke (Silver Medal)

1989. European Championship - 100, 200 m backstroke, 400 m individual medley (Silver Medal)

1991. European Championship - 100, 200 m backstroke, 400 m individual medley (Gold Medal)

1991. World Championship - 100, 200 m backstroke (Gold Medal)

1992. Olympics - 100, 200 m backstroke, 400 m individual medley (Gold Medal)

1993. European Championship - 100, 200 m backstroke, 200 m butterfly, 400 m individual medley (Gold Medal)

1994. World Championship - 200 m backstroke (Silver Medal)

1995. European Championship - 200 m backstroke, 400 m individual medley (Gold Medal)

1996. Olympics - 200 m backstroke (Gold Medal), 400 m individual medley (Bronze Medal)

Discounting drug users from East Germany and China, the woman you see before you holds world records in three individual events. Hungary's Kristina Egerszegi had the meet of a lifetime at the 91 European Championships in Athens, Greece, breaking the world records in the 100 and 200 backstrokes. Though the 100 backstroke record was broken as a relay leadoff by China's He Cihong at the 94 Worlds, I refuse to accept it as the record because it was drug-induced. Only He Cihong has come within 2 seconds of her 200 back record. In addition, Kristina came within 4 tenths of breaking a seemingly untouchable drug-induced East German world record in the 400 IM with her 4:36.54 by winning the gold in that event at the 92 Olympics. It is the world record in my eyes. Petra Schneider was a cheater.

Kristina has a magnificent Olympic record. In Seoul at age 14, she took the silver in the 100 back, and won gold over the East Germans in the 200 back. In Barcelona, she walked away with three individual golds, in the 100 and 200 backstroke and the 400 individual medley. In Atlanta, she took a bronze in the 400 IM, and the gold in the 200 back. It is interesting to note that Kristina stated before the Games that she would not be swimming the 100 back because she was "too old". Leading off the 400 medley relay for Hungary, she swam a 1:01.05, which would have won the gold medal in the individual event, as the winner Beth Botsford of the USA swam a 1:01.19.

Egerszegi is said to have gone through a very arduous training schedule, consisting of about 80,000 meters a week and 4 to 8 hours a day. She performs an exercise to strengthen her neck by placing a box on her forehead that is not allowed to fall off. She paints her long fingernails blue, which she says helps her to "grab the water". She owns and operates her own resturant outside of Budapest called, "The Mousehole". Eger, incidentally means "mouse" in Hungarian. She promotes a line of vitamin drinks in Hungary because she feels that alot of people in Hungary are dying young because they aren't eating right.

Kristina has retired from international swimming, but she will swim this year in really low-level meets to wind back down. She will not be competing in any major championship meets. There will never be another Kristina Egerszegi. As they call her in Hungary "Kristina Kiralyno", or Queen Kristina, and she is, and will always be Queen of the Backstroke.

Egerszegi Krisztina


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