Jamaican athletes win Hungarian hearts
Jamaica's Briana Williams poses with young Hungarian fans Mark (left) and Dani Kerekjarto outside the Magyar Testnevelesi facility in Budapest, Hungary, on Thursday, August 17, 2023. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Members of the Jamaican team who kick-started competition at the World Athletics Championships have been winning hearts in the Hungarian capital.

Each afternoon dozens of spectators ring the training facility that the Jamaicans have been assigned to in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the athletes through perimetre fences.

Among the fans on Thursday were Laszlo Balassy, a member of the Hungarian Olympic Association, and the Kerekjarto family, including husband and wife and two boys.

Laszlo, who had passport-sized photos of members of the Jamaican team in a folder and was hoping to get autographs for each of them, told the Jamaica Observer in halting English, he was a fan of track and field, [and] "all the top athletes in the world...yes, the Jamaicans".

Istvan Kerekjarto was a talented middle-distance runner who attended the University of Memphis on a track scholarship and was Conference USA 800m champion in 2004.

His wife Julianna was also an athlete, but said she only "ran for fun", but both said their two sons had shown a liking for the sport and were hoping that one day soon they, too, will participate.

Julianna said they took the boys to watch the athletes to see "how they warm up, how they prepare for the big events".

Istvan, who also represented the Hungarian national team, said his father and grandfather were also talented athletes.

Golden Glory Budapest BannerObserver
Paul A Reid

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