Helsinki, 1952, Games of the XV Olympiad. Karoly TAKACS from Hungary competing in the 25m rapid fire pistol shooting event. Credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections
Born: 21 January 1910
Deceased: 5 January 1976
Birthplace: Budapest (Hungary)
ATTENDANCE AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Melbourne / Stockholm 1956
Gold: 1 (39)
The Right-Handed Shooter Who Won With His Left Hand
Karoly Takacs was a member of the Hungarian pistol shooting team in 1938 when, while serving as a sergeant in the army, a defective grenade exploded in his right hand - his pistol hand -and shattered it completely.
After spending a month in the hospital, Takacs secretly taught himself to shoot with his left hand. The following year he won the Hungarian pistol shooting championship and was a member of the Hungarian team that won the automatic pistol event at the world championships.
The next two Olympics, in 1940 and 1944, were cancelled because of war, but in 1948 Takacs qualified for the Hungarian Olympic team in the rapid-fire pistol event. He was 38 years old. Before the competition, the favorite, world champion and world record holder, Carlos Enrique Díaz Saenz Valiente, asked Takacs why he was in London. Takacs replied, "I'm here to learn."
Takacs won the gold medal and beat the world record by ten points. During the medal ceremony, Díaz Saenz Valiente, who finished second, turned to Takacs and said, "You have learned enough." Four years later in Helsinki, Takács successfully defended his Olympic title to become the first repeat winner of the rapid-fire pistol event.