Judit Magos, member of a golden Hungarian era

A recent photograph of Judit Magos with her European Table Tennis Union’s Hall of Fame plaque (Photo: Gabor Felegyi)

by Ian Marshall, Editor

A legend in her own lifetime, it is with great sadness that the Hungarian Table Tennis Association advises the passing of Judit Magos.

Born in Budapest on Monday 19th February 1951, she died on Thursday 18th October; she was 67 years old.

Rather different to the norm, Judit Magos was a right handed pen-hold grip player, in some ways similar to Zoja Rudnova, a player of a generation earlier who employed a similar style to great effect, when representing the country then known as the Soviet Union.

It was in her home city of Budapest, when 13 years old that Judit Magos started to play table tennis, rather late by modern day standards; she improved quickly, established herself in the national team and competed in what could be regarded as a third golden era from Hungary.

Ever since the first World Championships were held in 1926 in London, Hungary had been the dominant force in the days prior to World War Two, the names of Roland Jacobi, Zoltan Mechlovits, Victor Barna, Miklos Szabados, Annus Sipos and of course Maria Mednyansky, like Judit Magos a pen-holder, roll of the tongue.

Later in the immediate post war years, Ferenc Sido, Ferenc Soos and Gizi Farkas succeeded at the very highest levels; two great ages for Hungary, then came the third, the career of Judit Magos, the times of Gabor Gergely, Istvan Jonyer and Tibor Klampar.

In that era, in a period of just over a decade, Judit Magos was one of the most prominent figures at the European Championships. In 1972 in Rotterdam, she won both Women’s Team and Women’s Doubles gold; two years later in 1974 in Novi Sad it was bronze in the Women’s Team event but most significantly once again with Henriette Lotaller, she retained the Women’s Doubles title, before reserving the top step of the Women’s Singles podium.

Four years later when the European Championships were staged in Duisburg she enjoyed more success. She emerged a Women’s Team gold medallist, whilst in addition regaining the Women’s Singles title and clinching Women’s Doubles bronze. Outstanding performances, later in 1980 in Berne, it was Women’s Team silver, in 1982 in Budapest, Women’s Doubles bronze.

Six gold medals at a European Championships; in any sport it is a remarkable record. Deservedly, in 1978, Judit Magos was voted Hungarian Sportswoman of the Year and more recently inducted into the European Table Tennis Union’s Hall of Fame.

A sad loss to the sport of table but she will never be forgotten, always remembered.