One of the most memorable races at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games was the men’s 100m butterfly sprint, whereby a historic finish resulted in four men on the podium. Behind gold medal winner Joseph Schooling of Singapore, three undeniable forces of talent stood on the silver medal stand, with American Michael Phelps, South African Chad Le Clos and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh all touching in 51.14 to tie for second place in the unbelievable race.
For 30-year-old Cseh, earning a silver medal was tough consolation for having finished off the podium in arguably his stronger event, the 200m butterfly. Headed into Rio, Cseh was backed by a decisive short course European Championships victory from December 2015, where the Magyar scored the gold in a new European Record time of 1:49.00. That was already after having won the World Championship title in Kazan previously last summer, touching ahead of a strong field in a mark of 1:53.48 to take the win.
Even closer to the Olympic Games, however, was Cseh’s head-turning victory at the long course European Championships in London, where, just over 2 months out from Rio, Cseh blasted a mighty 1:52.91 to take the 200m butterfly title. That mark was just off his own personal best of 1:52.70 from the 2008 Olympic Games, a time which still stands as the European Record.
But standing atop the podium in the 200m buuterfly in Rio wasn’t meant to be, as Cseh fell to 7th place overall in that race dominated by Phelps. What drove the knife even deeper with that outcome for Cseh, however, was the fact that his 1:52.91 time from London would have indeed been enough to claim the gold in Rio, as winner Phelps touched in 1:53.36. Cseh calls that fact simply a ‘painful memory.’
Going on 3 months after the Olympic Games, Cseh is now reflecting on where his career stands and where it may lead, as the Hungarian is set to turn 31 in early December. Acknowledging he is ‘no longer a teenager’, Cseh says that he is easing back into his training after having taken some time off. He says he will be forgoing competing at the short course World Championships set for Windsor in December, but instead will be going full steam ahead for the long course World Championships slated to be held in his home nation of Hungary in 2017.
On his home turf, the ‘old man’ hopes to relinquish the glory that seemed to evade him in Rio, at least in the longer fly event. Cseh wants to ride a ‘strong tailwind of Hungarian fan encouragement’ when in Budapest next year.
First things first, however, as Cseh says, “For now, the most important thing is to be physically and mentally refreshed to continue training.”