Cati Szabo's years of suffering

About a month ago, while we were too concentrated on the 2010 Worlds, GSP has published a "super reportage" about Ecaterina Szabo, the 1984 Olympics gold medallist.

A short interview:
Cati, what was the thing that most marked you as a gymnast?
The hunger! I can say that I truly learnt what suffering from hunger means. If I had to name the most difficult to bare thing from the period when I was an elite athlete, that would be the diet. You must be tough in order to overcome this.

But you were still managing to run away to find sweets...
It was very difficult because we were permanently watched but I remember a cute episode that happened in Moscow, i was with Daniela Silivas. After the contest we went to the tribune and started to beg for money: "Please, one rubla". Anything was good, not just money.

I imagine that you were as well among the ones that were severely punished by Bela Karoly...
I am the type that does not like to live through the memories of 30 years ago. I turned the page and moved on. But I do not regret anything that happened! Emilia Eberle called me last year to ask me if I will tell what I endured from Karoly. She spoke, that is her business! I think it does not make sense to put myself against Bela! I now live another part of my life's story and it did not make sense to go back in time.

But didn't you remain with certain frustrations from the bad treatments?
You know what? We were just kids. Drones! We didn't really care about what was around us. We only knew this: contests, trainings, rest and diet.

What victories do you consider the best?
The ones from the Olympics but also the ones from the '83 Worlds. It was the only competition abroad when a part of my family was with me: my mother, brother and grandmother. I am still surprised that they let them come in Hungary.

Cati's present suffering

She suffers from a rare form of hernia and she had a spine surgery which kept her in bed for 4 months. Cati, now 42, lives in France, in Chamalieres with her husband and two sons: 7 years old Zeno and 14 years old Lorenzo. Now, she can do regular household activities only after her daily dose of morphine.
Szabo, who has spinal disc herniation on four vertebrae, underwent a first surgery on March 30, 2010 but the problems have not ceased to exist. "The first sign was on May 16, 2008. Zeno and I had come back from shopping and I wanted to pick up some bags and water bottles. I made two steps and I got stuck. I don't know how I got house. Then, when the crises began, it was very painful. I could no longer breathe, my right leg has almost paralysed, i could not feel my toes. For three or four months I stayed in bed, I had infiltrations.

Consequences of the effort done as an athlete? "I don't think so. Maybe it just made the disease worse, in time. The doctors told me that they have seen people who have never done sports and have the same problems. Just that mine is a more atypical hernia. The truth is, however, that, when I was an athlete, I had never an X-ray done to know that there might be such a problem. "

After the surgery, she has gone through dramatic moments: "I was like a baby. My husband, Cris, and the boys helped me go to the toilet! They fed me, dressed me, brushed my hair,  washed me. Now I am more active, but nobody told me if I would ever recover completely. For the moment, without a daily dose of morphine, I can't get started! I have fierce leg pains because the nerve from my back that has branches to the legs is strangled and this causes many problems. It is very difficult!"

Interesting facts:

Born in Zagon, Covasna, Szabo did not know a word in Romanian when she was sent to Onesti in the first grade: "I found myself among strangers and did not understand anything. I only knew to raise the hand in the classroom when I needed to go to the toilet. Luckily, my sister, ten years older, was also there and helped me to fit in "
The former gymnast's true name is Katalin Szabo, but the communists wanted to change her identity to hide the Hungarian origin.I woke up one day with the name changed in my password: Ecaterina Szabo. I do not know now who has made this change. But I heard more people inside the federation: "Look this "bozgoroaica" is coming with us again".
You can read the entire article here.


Emski said...

:-( Sad, but very interesting!

Anonymous said...

I worked so hard on this 10 years ago...and it was deny deny deny.