2015 Western Grad heading to Olympics
Fans of Western State Colorado University track and field will see a familiar face competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Six-time Division II National Champion, Barbara Szabo, will be representing Hungary at this summer's Olympic games. Szabo competed in the women's high jump at Western from 2011-14, earning her degree in the winter of 2015.
"I'm very happy to call myself an Olympian for my country and I couldn't imagine a bigger blessing as an athlete," Szabo recently told GoMountaineers.com. "I'm also happy to represent Western. The years I spent at school were definitely the best years I could have in terms of my career."
Szabo ended her career at Western as one of the most decorated female athletes in school history. A seven-time All-American, 10-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Champion and six-time national champion, Szabo was a dominating force in Division II. Winning four consecutive national indoor high jump titles, Szabo became just the third woman in Division II indoor track and field history to win four championships in a single event. Szabo was named the 2013 Collegiate Female Athlete of the Year by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Szabo's six national titles ties her with Alisha Williams for the most women's track and field national titles in Western's history.
Since graduating, Szabo has continued to dedicate herself to her craft, with the ultimate goal of making the Olympics. The road has been littered with challenges, but perseverance has placed Szabo among some of the best athletes in the world.
"The biggest challenge is to find the right path and try not to lose the goal. I've traveled so much between many different countries and I've had many opportunities to do something different other than track and field," Szabo said. "However, I managed to stick with my dream. I think it's also a big challenge to not give up and keep going forward even when something isn't going as I want it to."
The Budapest, Hungary native is currently tied for 36th best in the world with a mark of 1.90 meters. However, Szabo set a career high mark of 1.94 meters last summer. That mark would place her 17th in the world this year.
"My goal is to make it to the final and be one of the best 12 jumpers," Szabo said. "I believe that I have everything it takes to jump as high as the qualification standard will be and I definitely expect this meet to be one of the bests I have jumped at."
While the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio officially begin on Saturday, Aug. 6, the qualification round of the women's high jump won't begin until Thursday, Aug. 18. You can bet there will be quite a few Hungary fans on that day in Gunnison, cheering for a Mountaineer competing on the world's biggest stage.
"It's been my dream to compete in the Olympics since I started track and field," Szabo said. "I was only 14 when I first decided I wanted to be there with the best athletes one day."