Romani runner in Slovakia prepares for Europe's junior championship
When she won a local race in Slovakia two years ago, a photograph of her on the medalists' tribunal went viral. Compared to the girls who came in second and third place in their running shoes, 13-year-old Annamárie Horváthová was standing in first place after running in ballerina flats.
"It's talent, diligence and perseverance," trainer Norbert Pecze says when asked how to best describe the young athlete. She is growing up in the miserable conditions of a Romani settlement.
After that victory she received running shoes from a sponsor and the Athletics Club in Moldava nad Bodvou noticed her talent and took her in. She was also visited by the then-President of Slovakia, Andrej Kiska, who expressed recognition of her achievement and wished her a great deal of success in school, sports and life.
"In the beginning we had a bit of a problem with communication - Annamária doesn't speak Slovak, but she does speak Romanes and Hungarian," recalls Pezce, who is also chair of the Athletics Club. "We speak Hungarian to one another and we talk a lot. She lives in a shack, her horizons there are limited, so we are doing our best to also transfer some knowledge to her, which for us is just as valuable as winning a medal. She is bringing us great joy in all respects. We are also helping her materially, we wash her clothes, when we go to meets we pack her bag, and we're paying for her lunches at school so she gets a balanced diet every day, we go shopping together," the trainer explains.
Pecze is also in constant contact with Horváthová's family. After her first success in the 750 meter event she did not wait long to score others.
Among her biggest successes is her title as second-place finisher in the junior national events running the 800 meter and 2000 meter races. "Our biggest vision is that Anna will qualify for the European championship. There's a big chance that will happen, as she continues to surprise us. She beat her personal record in her recent matches by 13 seconds, which is a big step forward," her trainer says.
"At the moment we are thinking about how to aid her with completing her compulsory schooling. Annamária is a nice, modest little girl and we are really looking forward to all the successes that still await us together," Pecze says.
First published in Romano voďi magazine.
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