Gabriella Szabo (En.) life and biography

Gabriella Szabo (En.) picture, image, poster

Gabriella Szabo (En.) biography

Date of birth : 1975-11-14
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Bistrița, Romania
Nationality : Romanian
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-06-20
Credited as : Athlete track and field, Olympic athlete, Zsolt Gyongyossy

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Gabriella Szabo (Also known as: Gabriela Szabo, Gabi Szabo) born November 14, 1975 in Bistrita, Romania is a Romanian athlete.

Gabriela Szabo is one of the best middle-distance runners in the world. An ESPN writer noted, "She packs amazing power ... Her finishing sprint is unbelievable, and at her best distances (3000 meters, 5000 meters), she cannot currently be beaten."

In addition to her strength and speed, Szabo is also a skilled tactician on the track. She told a Coolrunning reporter, "I'm very clear-headed on the course. I never let up for a moment. I have to concentrate my attention constantly on my opponents. I always planned the final attack when I felt my opponents had lost their strength. Then my brain decides on the attack."

Szabo became the youngest medalist in the history of the World Indoor Championships when she won the 3000 meters in Barcelona at age 19. Since then, she has continued to win gold medals in world indoor meets and has won medals in two Olympics.

Ran at Atlanta Olympics

At the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Szabo was favored to win the 5000 meters, and she was celebrated by the Romanian media and public as a certain winner before she even left for Atlanta. Once in Atlanta, however, her hopes were crushed when, in the sultry Atlanta heat, she didn't even qualify for the final. On the last day of the Games, however, she won the silver medal in the 1500.

According to CBS Sportsline, this experience taught Szabo a lesson. "Oh, I said to everybody 'I'm going to win.' To Romanian television, radio, everybody." But, she realized, "It's better if I say nothing." In another interview, she said, "I'm very superstitious. I don't like to say I'm going to do this or I'm going to do that."

An Undefeated Year

In 1998, Szabo was considered first in the world in the 1500, 3000, 5000, and mile. In 1999 she won the world title in the 5000, setting a meet record of 14 minutes, 41.82 seconds, and was the top contender in the 3000. Throughout that year, she was undefeated at any distance and was one of only two athletes to be undefeated in the Golden League series.

In recognition of her accomplishments, she was awarded the AIPS Sportsman of the Year award and the IAAF Best World Athlete award in 1999. That same year, Szabo also became one of the richest track-and-field athletes of all time, earning over $1 million that year. A writer in Coolrunning noted that Szabo won $500,000 for winning all seven Golden League races, plus $250,000 for gaining the overall Grand Prix title later in the year. Added to other prizes, she totaled $1,015,000 for the season.

Money and Marriage

Szabo, who grew up in a poor town in Transylvania where the average monthly income is $100, was amazed by all this money. She lost much of it by placing it in Romanian banks, several of which later failed. She told the Coolrunning reporter, "I don't know now how much I will earn next year. Perhaps nothing. So I've decided to put my money in foreign banks rather than Romanian ones. I've already had bad experiences with local banks. I don't want any more trouble."

In October of 1999, Szabo confirmed her long-rumored romance with her coach, Zsolt Gyongyossy. The two met when she was 13, when he saw her run in a cross-country race. They were married in a former Romanian palace.

Sydney Olympic Hopes

Although Szabo ran in 19 races in 1999, throughout most of 2000 she cut back her schedule, saving herself for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. She told a Reuters reporter, "I'm very keen to win the gold in the 5000 meters at the Olympics. Maybe I'll compete in the 3000 race too, but nothing is sure yet."

At the Sydney Games, Szabo was favored to win the gold medal in the 5000 meters and she did, setting an Olympic record of 14:40.79 and destroying the previous record, set by Wang Jungxia of China in 1996 at 19.09 seconds.

Szabo had been hoping to win the 1500 meters as well, but was beaten by Algerian Nouria Merah-Benida, who took the gold, and Romanian Violeta Szekely, who took silver. During the race, American runner Suzy Favor-Hamilton became ill and fell on the track, disrupting the other runners. Szabo, who won the bronze medal, told that the fall had "upset her finish," but also admitted that running both the 5000 and the 1500 had taken a lot out of her. "One race is best," she said. "It's better than many races with a short recovery." She may be right; no runner has ever won the 1500 and the 3000 or 5000 in the same Olympics.


Silver medal, 1500 meters, Atlanta Olympics, 1996; 1st place, 5000 meters, track and Field World Championships, 1997; 1st place, 5000 meters, World Championship, 1999; winner, overall Grand Prix title, 1999; AIPS Sportsman of the Year, 1999; IAAF Best World Athlete, 1999; gold medal, 5000 meters, Sydney Olympics, 2000; bronze medal, 1500 meters, Sydney Olympics, 2000.

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