The Holocaust Survivor Who Won 10 Olympic Medals

The Fellowship  |  August 16, 2019

The oldest female olympic winner, Hungarian born Agnes Keleti, 95, makes a split in front of Hungarian young gymnasts in a local training center of Budapest on January 16, 2016. Keleti is a five-time gold medalist of the artistic gymnastic category at the Olympic Games in Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956). Keleti, born in Hungary in 1921 but living in Israel since 1957, last month celebrated her 95th birthday in the Hungarian capital. / AFP / PETER KOHALMI (Photo credit should read PETER KOHALMI/AFP/Getty Images)

When we share Israelis you should know, each Israeli often did something special, be it surviving hardship, accomplishing great feats, or inspiring those who stand for Israel. In the case of Agnes Keleti, she has done all of these things. Writing at The Times of Israel, Cnaan Liphshiz tells us how Ms. Keleti survived the Nazis, medaled in gymnastics, made aliyah (immigrated) to her biblical homeland, and at 98 is still as feisty as ever:

When journalists ask Agnes Keleti about her health, she gently smiles and slowly extends her right hand in apparent gratitude for the question.

Keleti yanks anyone who is foolish enough to grasp her hand with enough force to throw them off their balance.

Then she replies: “I’m fine, thanks. Yourself?“

Such agility, defiance and humor are traits that helped Keleti, 98, survive the Holocaust in hiding and become Hungary’s most successful living athlete. She has no fewer than 10 Olympic medals as a gymnast — most of them won after she reached the relatively ripe age of 30. She is also the most decorated female Jewish Olympian of all time.

Keleti, who left Hungary in 1957 and lived in Israel, is now celebrated as a national hero in Hungary, where she returned three years ago to be with one of her two sons.

In Budapest, Keleti leads a comfortable life in a central apartment that she shares with a female caretaker and about 40 orchids that had been discarded but rescued and nursed back to health by both women.

“I have a good life here, I feel at home,” Keleti told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency last week after lighting the Olympic flame at the European Maccabi Games

Stay informed about issues affecting Israel, the Jewish people, Jewish-Christian relations, receive daily devotionals, and more.