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Agnes Keleti: Olympic great who fled Nazis and Soviets smashes 100 barrier | Sean Ingle

The world’s oldest Olympic champion survived the Holocaust and the Soviet clampdown on Hungary – and fizzes with energy

If a Hollywood scriptwriter had come up with the extraordinary story of Agnes Keleti – the world’s oldest Olympic champion, who celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday – as a piece of fiction, they surely would have been told to rein it in. Fleeing the Nazis, surviving the Holocaust with a false ID, and later escaping the Soviet clampdown on Hungary? Competing in a first Olympic Games aged 31 before going on to win more medals than anyone else in Melbourne four years later? And then, just for good measure, passing her century bursting with a rare energy and unquenchable zest for life? It sounds like magical realism. Yet it was all true.

“These 100 years felt to me like 60,” Keleti said, as she celebrated with a cake with fireworks fizzing from it and a smile so wide it could have lit up Budapest. It served as an instant pick-me-up, especially in these grim and monochrome times.

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