Today is Agnes Keleti's 102nd birthday. Agnes Keleti is not a name known by too many people, even gymnastics followers are not too familiar with her. However, she is has one of the most amazing runs in the sport and one of the most extraordinary lives, and though, she is not the most famous Hungarian gymnast, that honor belongs to Henrietta Onodi, she is the gymnast with the most Olympic medals from her country.

Agnes was born on January 9, 1921, in Budapest, and started doing gymnastics when she was 4; by the time she turned 16, she won her first national gymnastics championship, a feat that she would repeat 9 more times until 1956. She was to join the national Hungarian team that would represent her country in the 1940 Olympic Games that were to take place in Tokyo. However, when WWI broke out, the games were canceled, but nevertheless, Keleti continued her training. In 1941, she was expelled from her gym because she was a Jew (only Arian race gymnasts were allowed to train). As the Nazis invaded Hungary, in order to survive, she had to go into hiding, but her dad and other relatives were taken into a concentration camp by the Nazis. Having heard that married women were not taken to "work" camps, she married Hungarian gymnast István Sárkány in 1944. Keleti bought the identity documents of a Christian girl and she worked as a servant in a small village, which is how she survived the war. Luckily, her mum and sister had also managed to hide and they were saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. Her dad and the other relatives that had been taken by the Nazis had not been so lucky and had been killed by poisonous gas in the Auschwitz concentration camp. During the winter of 1944-1945, during the siege of Budapest by the Soviet forces, and very close to the end of WWII, Agnes Keleti's mornings were spent picking up the bodies of those who had died and placing them in a common pit.

After the war, Agnes resumed her gymnastics training and, in 1946, won the Hungarian national championships again. She qualified for the London 1948 Games, but a torn ligament in her ankle prevented her from competing. Finally, in 1952, she got to compete at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, where she won several medals, including gold on floor (you can see part of that exercise in the video). She was 31 years of age. She competed in the 1954 world championships, where she won gold on uneven bars, silver with her team, and bronze on beam.​

Her greatest gymnastics achievements came in 1956, at the Melbourne Olympic Games, where she won 4 gold medals, and 2 silver medals (in the all around competition, finishing behind Soviet legend Larisa Latynina, and in the team competition). Just before the Olympics started in Australia, on November 4, the Soviets invaded Budapest to squash a popular revolt, so, after the Games, Keleti stayed in Australia and later moved to Israel where she taught gymnastics and she coached the national gymnastics team.

In total, Agnes Keleti won a total of 10 Olympic medals, 5 of them gold, and she remains the most successful Hungarian gymnast at the Olympic Games.

Happy birthday, Agnes!