An Olympian in Osaka
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
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.
LIFE AFTER THE OLYMPICS
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
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
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
He has been a part of sporting events which saw the participation
of many families. He looks forward to more in 2005.