track and field
Kovacs competed in two javelin events for Hungary at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, and won a bronze medal. Competing first in the traditional javelin throw, the official Swedish Olympic Report of 1912 stated, "Kovacs has an extraordinary gift for throwing the javelin." The report also stated that Kovacs needed improvement on his technique and this was apparent in the preliminary competition. Kovacs scratched on his first two attempts, but qualified for the final, and won his group, with a throw of 54.99-meters on his third (and last) attempt.
Only three men qualified for the final as the rest of the original field of 25 either scratched or did not reach the required distance. After failing to improve upon the distance on his first two attempts of the final, "...Kovacs, in this last attempt, managed to make a beautiful throw, but the javelin flew too high, so the distance covered was not more than 55.50 meters..." Kovacs won the bronze medal, three meters behind the silver medalist; gold medalist Eric Lemming of Sweden set a world record with a throw of 60.64-meters.
The two-handed javelin, which forced the athletes to throw both right- and left-handed, was the second event in which Kovacs competed. Whereas the athletes used their best hand in the traditional javelin throw, the two-handed event was about versatility. Kovacs appeared unprepared as the Olympic Report stated, "It was evident that Kovacs had trained very little for the throw of the left hand, his best finish being no more than 30.65..." The poor distance of Kovacs' left-handed throw (the shortest of any registered throw) countered his tremendous right-handed attempt, which again was the third best of the competition at 55.74-meters. His combined effort of 86.39-meters placed Kovacs 12th out of 14 participants.
Kovacs competed in the javelin throw in the late 1900s and 1910s when throwers could hold the javelin in the either the middle or the end of the spear. Kovacs was one of the best throwers in the world at the time while holding the end and broke the listed world record three times between 1909-1911.
Birth and Death Dates:
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
The Jewish Almanac, edited by Richard Siegel and Carl Rheins (New York: Bantam Books, 1980)
The Olympic Games: Athens 1896-Sydney 2000, (New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1999)