July 27 2012

Zita carried the Olympic torch

27/07/2012 - On 13 July, a Hungarian teenage athlete has experienced her historic moment. 18-year-old Zita Vajgel was one of the 8.000 torchbearers at the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay that marks the beginning of the Olympic Games.

Zita with torch
Zita receives the torch with the Olympic flame.   © Samsung

To be an Olympian is a dream that drives every athlete in the world. It was also Zita's dream since she ran her first lap around the SOS Children's Village in Battonya at the age of eight. This year, her dream came true: On 13 July, she carried the Olympic torch for 320 metres – the 320 metres of her life. She describes her experience as follows: 

"When they said I could start, tears rolled down my cheeks. It was the most wonderful 320 metres of my life. It was so touching! People did not know me at all and still looked at me like I was an angel. I was in a giant crowd suddenly, but I had no fear, I just watched the flame and ran, as slowly as I could. I did not want to finish."

Zita's participation in the Torch Relay was sponsored by Samsung Electronics, the world's largest electronics company whose Hungarian branch has been supporting SOS Children's Villages in Hungary since 2010.

Photo: Katerina Ilievska
Zita has already won a lot of medals © Katerina Ilievska

The representatives of Samsung's Hungarian branch cited Zitas athletic accomplishments and dedication, but also involvement in community development and educational work with underprivileged children as key reasons for her selection.

The young athlete trained vigorously for the day she would carry the Olympic flame. On future Olympic Games, perhaps, Zita will be a competitor. If it does not happen, there is no room for despair for Zita is determined to follow a career in sports coaching and helping other aspiring young athletes reach for Olympic heights.

Photo: SOS Children
Congratulations from Hungarian sprint canoer and Olympic champion Vajda Attila © SOS Children's Villages Hungary

Passion for athletics

Zita came to live in SOS Children's Village Battonya in June 2001 together with her three sisters. "It was here, at the age of eight, that I discovered sports and developed particular passion for athletics", tells Zita. After primary school, she knew where she wants to continue her education. "I moved to Szeged to study at the sports high-school and I joined the local sports club." Her dedication and long hours of training brought her an impressive collection of medals proudly at display in her room. "I won medals at village, county, local competitions, in summer camps. My biggest success is winning the Szeged county long-jump and the county's relay race, which took me to the national competitions where I won the bronze."

One year of high-school left

I still have one year left to finish high-school and then I'll enrol at the Szeged University to study for a sports coach. I see my future in sports education." Zita already has experience in this field. "I spent many summers in Caldonazzo summer camp (summer camp of SOS Children's Villages in Italy, editor's remark) from where I have many beautiful memories and medals," she smiles. "Last year I went there as a volunteer with the Hungarian children."

Zita's efforts earned her a position of peer educator this August in an adventure camp. "I and three educators will be responsible for 20 children from SOS Children's Village Battonya. Working with children requires a lot of patience, but I'm up for the challenge because this is what I want to do."

Photo: SOS Children
SOS mom Panni is deeply moved that Zita gets the opportunity to experience Olympic feelings © SOS Children's Villages Hungary
Proud SOS mom

Zita's SOS mom Panni cannot hide her emotions. "I am so very proud and happy she got this opportunity." Mom's eyes tear up. Geri, pedagogue in the village and Zita's fellow runner, adds: "I'm very excited for her. As an athlete I understand the value of such a magnificent opportunity. Being a torchbearer gave her the handicap to shoot for the top."