Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Ringer Hungarian Silver Medalist Sweats It in Ellisville Gym

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Ringer Hungarian Silver Medalist Sweats It in Ellisville Gym

Article excerpt

Here's today's post-Olympic Post Puzzler:

Who was the winningest St. Louisan at the 1996 Summer Olympics?

Hint: It's not Jackie-Joyner Kersee, bronze medalist in the women's long jump.

Bonus Points: Pronounce the subject's name.

Time's up. It's Szilveszter Csollany of Hungary, silver medalist on rings in men's gymnastics.

Szilveszter sounds like Sylvester. Csollany is pronounced Cho-lan.

Szilveszter, 26, and his wife, Szilvia - the z is silent there, too - have been living in Ballwin for the past year while he trains and coaches at Meyer's Gymnastics in Ellisville.

Csollany's saga is slightly off the beaten mat for Olympic success in his sport. Not many gymnasts buck their national federation, move thousands of miles to a new country and basically train themselves.

His odyssey to St. Louis began two winters ago at a meet in Switzerland.

Ken Meyer, a South County native and former Division I gymnast at Houston Baptist, was helping coach a mutual American friend there. The friend introduced Meyer to Csollany.

"I told him I wanted to be a coach," Csollany said "and my dream is to speak English."

Meyer had the solution to both requests. He quickly invited the Hungarian to the Ellisville gym for a week-long test run.

Csollany joined Meyer's staff permanently last August, bringing Szilvia, 23, his bride of three months.

With the Olympics less than a year away, the Hungarian gymnastics federation judged this plan to be slightly off the beam.

"Everybody said I must be fat and I didn't want to work hard to help the team," Csollany said.

"The world championships were in Puerto Rico in April," Csollany said. "The coaches said I had to make the finals to go the Olympic Games. I was so mad, because I knew I was the only one who could win a medal."

He had led his team at the '92 Olympics in Barcelona, placing sixth on rings, seventh on vault and ninth in all-around. At worlds in Puerto Rico, the 5-foot-6, 145-pounder was runner-up on rings to perennial champ Yuri Chechi of Italy. …

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