Daniel Gyurta, Hungarian Olympic champion, stayed true to his word on a recent visit to Norway to hand over a gold medal in dedication to Alexander Dale Oen, friend, former competitor and the 100m breaststroke world champion at Shanghai 2011 who died last April.
After Gyurta's victory in the Olympic 200m breaststroke final in world-record time at London 2012, Gyurta announced that he would make a replica of his gold medal and give it to Dale Oen's family in recognition of the journey the swimmers had made together and the friendship and rivalry they had enjoyed before Dale Oen passed away on the last day of a training camp in the United States.
IOC rules forbid the replication of Olympic medals, so Gyurta commissioned a gold medal especially designed for the occasion and engraved with the Tower of London on one side and Alexander’s portrait on the other.
Gyurta handed the medal to Alex's brother, Robin Dale Oen, at the annual gala for the best Norwegian athletes of the year in Hamar, Norway.
The Hungarian champion delivered a short speech in Norwegian, the moment broadcast live on television. He said: “Alexander was not only a fantastic competitor but also a great man and a true friend. I’m convinced that he would have won the gold medal at the Olympics, so this medal represents what he couldn’t achieve due to his tragic death. The world’s swimming community suffered a huge loss when he left us so suddenly.”
Gyurta's speech and the handover of the medal, the audience gave him a two-minute long standing ovation, while he and Dale Oen’s brother went through some touching moments while hugging each other.
After the ceremony, Gyurta said: “I tried to concentrate on my words and not look at Alexander’s parents during my speech but I’ve heard that they were crying… It was very emotional and very touching… After the gala I talked to them, but I don’t want to disclose this private conversation. All I want to say is that I went to Norway to keep my promise and to pay a fitting tribute to my friend, Alexander.”
The Olympic 100m champion, Cameron Van Der Burgh, of South Africa, ask dedicated his Olympic title to Dale Oen after his parents sat up in the stands with the Dale Oen family in London.
Thanks to Hungarian journalist Gergely Csurka, who assisted with this report.