The Olympic champion epée fencer wrote her thesis on the Olympics at SZE

Emese Szász, the Rio 2016 Olympic champion in épée fencing, has successfully defended her thesis at Széchenyi István University's Hungarian-taught and postgraduate specialist training course in Sports Diplomacy. Szász's thesis focused on examining three Olympic events through the lens of sustainability, a timely and critical topic in the world of sports. Following her final examination, Szász shared her insights on the future performance of the Hungarian team at the upcoming Paris Summer Games. Additionally, Szász touched on the importance of sports in the lives of her twins, emphasizing the role of physical activity in their development and well-being.

"I'm positive about the Summer Games because 2023 was a very successful year for Hungarian sport, everything clicked, and I'm confident that this streak will continue this year. I expect us to win three medals in fencing, including at least one gold, and six firsts for the Hungarian team as a whole. Of course, anything can happen in the Olympics - good or bad - but whatever happens, I will be cheering for everyone all the way," said Emese Szász, Olympic champion in the epée event, who is co-chair of the Vasas fencing team with the Olympic champion Áron Szilágyi. A former top athlete, she has excelled in her studies at Széchenyi István University, as well as on the piste, and successfully defended her thesis at the final summer examination of the institution's Hungarian-taught and oriented postgraduate specialist training course in Sports Diplomacy.

Emese Szász on the Győr-campus of Széchenyi István University.

Emese Szász on the Győr-campus of Széchenyi István University. (Photo: Máté Dudás)

"Sport is my life, even as an active competitor I knew for sure that I wanted to stay on the piste after my career was over. I went to a conference on sports diplomacy in Budapest because I had been interested in this field for a long time. It was here that I was introduced to the two-semester course at Széchenyi University by its founder, Dr Barnabás Kovács, whom I had met when he was Consul General in Barcelona. I applied, which was an excellent decision, because I gained useful knowledge, for example in the field of protocol, and we had the benefit of the experience of renowned experts such as Pál Schmitt, an internationally recognised figure in sports diplomacy, who gave us some very useful insight," he recalls. She said that the high quality training was complemented by practical elements such as a study trip to Barcelona, where they met sports professionals from the Catalan capital and visited major sports facilities.

"I wrote my thesis on the world's biggest sporting event, ‘Three Olympics, Three Ways’. I have been to Beijing, London and Rio, so I was able to use my personal experiences in my work. These are three Olympic Games on different continents, whose organisers have chosen very different paths, from investment management to recycling. An event raises so many questions: how much energy do we use? What about the facilities? How will the Olympic village apartments be reused? Past examples provide important lessons for the future in terms of environmental awareness and sustainability. And these are issues of paramount importance for the life of the Olympic movements, and it is no coincidence that a change of direction has already been felt in the choice of the host city, where sustainability has become one of the main considerations", said the sports director, highlighting the theme of her study.

Finally, she also revealed that sport is a priority not only in her work but also in her private life. "As a mother, I think it's important for my children to have sport in their lives, but I don't push fencing itself. I also don't want to put extra pressure on them with my past achievements, the important thing is that they move and grow up to be healthy, happy adults," she said. She also says that she doesn't think about her own Olympic experience in her everyday life, and as a mother of twin children, she doesn't have much time for it. But as the Games approach, memories come back to her and she becomes a fan herself. She added that she is infected by the Olympic spirit and is convinced that, although there are many challenges ahead for professionals, many things need to be innovated and transformed, but the Olympic ideal must not be lost. "If I can get involved in helping in any way, I will be happy to do so, including by using the knowledge I have gained from the programme at Széchenyi University. If a major sports diplomacy assignment came my way, I would be very happy to take it on," concluded Emese Szász.

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