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AQWRESTLING MIJAÍNLÓPEZ

74OLYMPIC REVIEWMY GAMESLast summer, I returned to the 'Eternal City' ofRome, a half-century after the 1960 OlympicGames. Back then I was a 22-year-old rookieand I had a bad start to my first Games - I had hardlybegun the riding when I fell. There was a lot of pain inmy right shoulder and I could barely raise my arm toshoot. However, I bounced back and won the swimmingcompetition, and had a legitimate shot at the podium if I could turn in a great running leg. I remember vividly the rolling hills of the golf coursewhere we ran the 4,000 metres and the deadly heat ofthat day. Everybody was number crunching; modernpentathlon is in many ways a five-day course inmathematics - or at least in our day it was. I put in ahuge effort and finished in a great time, yet just misseda bronze medal by eight points. My fellow Hungarianstook the first two spots and I was part of the trio thatbecame Olympic champions in the team competition.Not making the individual podium toughened me up. I embarked on a training regime unlike anything anyoneelse in the world was doing at that time. No one wasclocking up miles the way I was. I was determined torun whatever time it took to win an Olympic gold- that's the goal that drove me on. It all followed frommy feeling of having failed in Rome. In Mexico City in 1968, I was 30 and an experiencedathlete. I had won the world individual and team titles fourtimes - in 1963, '65, '66 and '67 - but my Swedish rivalBjörn Ferm held a 65-point lead over me with only therunning competition remaining. It was the toughestcourse of them all: 2,500 metres at altitude with theaccompanying shortness of breath and the accumulatedpain of four days of competition already burning ourmuscles - I'll never forget that path on the Campo Militar;stony, rough and hilly. Ferm held on to win by 11 points,leaving me the individual silver medallist. In the teamcompetition, I became an Olympic champion again but I still wanted to be the individual gold medallist. By the time of the 1972 Games in Munich I was 34years old. I was in fourth position going into the final leg,but I ran into the lead as if I was in a trance and crossedthe line in first place. My team-mates threw me into theair and my coach was sobbing. At last I had achievedwhat I had spent 17 years fighting for. ?Above (left)Balczo (centre) with his teammates inMexico City; (right)celebrating after winning gold in Munich RightCrossing the finish line in MunichMYGAMESANDRASBALCZO THE HUNGARIAN MODERN PENTATHLETE WON THREE GOLD AND TWOSILVER OLYMPIC MEDALS IN THE 1960SAND 1970SINTERVIEW:DOBOR DEZSOROME 1960Gold: Modern pentathlon teamMEXICO CITY 1968Gold: Modern pentathlon teamSilver: Modern pentathlon MUNICH 1972Gold: Modern pentathlon Silver: Modern pentathlon team