Hungarian standout Tünde Csillag has become the first high profile gymnast to declare that she will not compete at the Tokyo World Championships in October — much to the consternation of the Hungarian Federation.
According to Hungary’s Geza Sport newspaper, Csillag’s concern about radiation due to the partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the devastating 9.0 March earthquake have caused her to declare that she will not go to Tokyo for the World Championships.
The Hungarian Federation, led by 1976 Olympic pommel horse champion Zoltan Magyar, is reportedly furious about Tsillag’s decision and has started disciplinary procedures against her, saying that she and coaches Gábor Rácz and Erzsébet Vizer attempted to convince other gymnasts not to participate at the World Championships either during a recent training camp. The coaches were sent home, and Csillag’s actions were deemed “betrayal of the national team,” Magyar said.
“I’m following the situation in Japan and the news coming out of the country and I decided with my family — not the influence of the coaches — that I do not want to travel to Japan,” Csillag said, according to HungarianAmbiance.com. “I expected that my decision will have consequences, but despite the disciplinary measures against me, I feel that my decision was right.”
The Hungarian women finished 23rd at the 2010 World Championships, barely making the cut of 24 teams that advance to the 2011 Worlds in Tokyo. The top 16 teams in Tokyo will keep their hopes alive for a team berth to the London Olympics.
Csillag was the only Hungarian gymnast to qualify for an event final at the 2011 European Championships, where she finished eighth on floor. In order to finish in the top 16, Hungary will need all the help it can get, especially from a gymnast like Csillag, a capable vaulter/tumbler. Current prominent Hungarian gymnasts include national champion Dorina Boczogo and Texas-trained Austin Sheppard, who holds dual citizenship.
While a few others — most notably some members of the German team — have expressed reservations about traveling to Tokyo, the FIG has been steadfast about keeping the meet in Japan.
With the prestogious Japan Cup (basically a dress rehersal for Worlds) coming July 2-3, team qualms about traveling and training in Tokyo may finally come to a rest. Several of the world’s top men’s teams — China, Russia, the U.S., Brazil — are sending their stars, and the women’s competition looks to be very complete as well.
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