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Feb 2005
Issue 057

Out now!

An Olympian in Osaka

When Laszlo T. Beres was a boy he wasn’t much different from other boys. He loved to imitate his heroes. His were the likes of sword-touting Achilles and horse riding, adventurers The Three Musketeers. By his early teens Beres would be different from other boys.

At the age of 12 he embarked on a career in pentathlon, a career that would span twenty years. Still now, it stuns Beres that days of childhood cavorting had specific influence in one of the most important areas of his life.


The Greeks created Pentathlon to show the best and most complete athlete. Aristotle called the pentathletes “the most perfect sportsmen”.

Modern pentathlon is present in 100 countries and is comprised of shooting, fencing, swimming, horse riding and running. As in the ancient games, the complete skills of the ancient pentathlete appear in the modern pentathlete. Swimming and running are the basic disciplines and build up the balanced body. On the mental side, shooting requires control and precise technique. Fencing tests adaptability and intelligence, riding on an unknown horse calls for adaptability and self control.

Beres represented USA in pentathlon at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. USA finished 18th overall. He describes competing in the Olympics as “an unforgettable memory … a huge honour”.

He made his first world team in 1977 and made every world team between 1984 and 1988. Of Hungarian decent and coming from a sporting family, Beres admits Hungarian blood and sporty genes augured well to build him into the athlete he was.

Traditionally, Hungary does well in the sport given the training environment, facilities and coaches. Other countries strong in pentathlon include Russia, Sweden and Poland.

Having tasted Olympic competition and still capable of more Beres wanted to “put his best on the line” and make the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, for which he thought would be his last. USA had been doing well in the time between Seoul and Barcelona and was looking to medal.

Although USA didn’t medal, they were pleased with their campaign finishing 4th overall. They were, however, without Beres. Beres had been diagnosed with cancer in 1991 putting him out of serious competition. Beres fought the cancer and says “pentathlon kept him going”. He knew serious competition in the sport was over but was determined to fight his illness and get back to sport in some way, shape or form.


Nowadays Beres busies himself at his office at the Osaka Dome in Taisho. He’s involved in a great many things that, you guessed it, have to do with sports. He is the Director of the World Olympians Association Asia-Oceania region (WOA).

WOA is an independent, global organisation representing all Olympians. It was created in 1995 to involve the nearly 100,000 Olympians around the world in activities of the Olympic movement. It is the fourth pillar of the Olympic Community with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) being the first pillar.

WOA promotes equality and diversity in sport, provides education programmes, advocates anti-drugs, and contributes to sports charities to name a few. WOA encourages past compe-titors to share their experiences, knowledge and resources with a view to help upcoming Olympic competitors.

WOA Asia-Oceania region was opened in November 2001 owing much of its recognition to the Osaka City Government which provides the bulk of WOA’s funding. The Osaka city government places importance on keeping abreast with the Olympic movement as well as promoting sport at a local level. Evidence of this commitment is the number of events that have taken place since WOA Asia-Oceania opened.

In April 2004, WOA President Pal Schmitt visited Osaka University and gave a speech entitled “Play True” which honed in on anti-drugs in sport. In October 2004 the Osaka Sports Day, held in Nagai stadium gave people a chance to meet athletles and Olympians.

Underpinning Osaka City Government and WOA’s commitment to assisting the Olympic movement is the Osaka Award which in 2004 went to Masato Mizuno, Mizuno Corporation president.

Tasked with spreading the Olympic spirit Beres brings enthusiasm, his networkings, knowledge and experience to an important role. He has organised for various Japanese Olympians to visit Japanese schools and looked on the faces of transfixed children.
He has been a part of sporting events which saw the participation of many families. He looks forward to more in 2005.

Text: Renee Karena Photos: WOA


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