Sabre star Gerevich makes light of half-century

The greatest challenge faced by Olympic competitors often comes from within their own minds. Some are aspiring to make their name, some to live up to great form, and some are already burdened by the knowledge of what it needs to take victory – and they want to repeat that feeling.

Fencer Aladar Gerevich arrived at the Rome Games, having competed at the five previous editions, a run stretching back to the Los Angeles Games of 1932. On each occasion he had returned home with at least one gold medal. Now, at the age of 50, he was taking on the world's best fencers once more. Could he really hope to repeat his triumph?

Gerevich had won medals with both sabre and foil, but his greatest successes had come with the former. Once more he was selected for both the individual and team events. He had previously won gold, silver and bronze medals in the individual sabre, but his most remarkable success came as part of Hungary's sabre team, having helped them take gold at each of his five Games, a run during which they had won every one of their matches.

Hungary started in Rome with a comfortable 9-3 victory over Belgium, and then repeated that scoreline with a similarly dominant victory over Romania in the quarter-finals. Gerevich won three and lost three of his bouts.

He did not take part in the semi-final in which Hungary defeated Italy 9-6, and he also sat out the 9-7 victory over Poland in the final, but his earlier contributions were enough to earn him his medal. He bowed out of Olympic competition with seven gold medals, a silver and two bronzes, establishing him as one of the sport's true all-time greats.

Gerevich's wife and father-in-law had also fenced at the Olympic Games while his own son, Pal, competed in the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Games, winning two bronze medals. Meanwhile, Pal's wife Gyöngyi appeared in the 1976 and 1980 Games as part of Hungary's volleyball team.