BUDAPEST, Hungary, July 30. BEFORE he was a teenager, Dani Gyurta spoke of Olympic medals. So precocious was the Hungarian youngster, it was widely thought that the youth had a spectacular international career ahead. And, when he won the silver medal in the 200-meter breaststroke at the 2004 Olympic Games, it appeared the hype was on target.
Following Athens, however, Gyurta faded from the front of the global scene. Meanwhile, American Brendan Hansen redefined the breaststroke events, taking the world records in the 100 and 200 distances to, respectively, 59.13 and 2:08.50. Suddenly, questions arose concerning the future of Gyurta and whether he'd recapture his surging form.
Earlier this year at the World Championships in Melbourne, Gyurta finished sixth in the 200 breast, behind a clocking of 2:11.62. The effort was solid, but doesn't match what the youngster accomplished last week. Racing at the European Junior Champs, Gyurta won the 100 and 200 breast events with marks of 1:01.70 and 2:10.71. The 100 effort is pedestrian at the world-class level, but Gyurta has never been known for his speed.
The 200 breast effort is a different story. While the time is more than two seconds off Hansen's world record, it was a quality swim and a big step toward the Olympics in Beijing next year. In his typical fashion, Gyurta was steady throughout, splitting 30.30 33.68 33.34 33.39. His strength has always been a sterling last 100 meters.
There's no doubt that Hansen remains alone in the breast events, followed by Japan's Kosuke Kitajima. But, Gyurta might be moving back up the charts and is worth keeping an eye on in the leadup to the next Olympiad. Whether he will move up and challenge for a top spot remains to be seen, but the Euro Junior Champs suggest it's a possibility.