Hungarian IOC Honorary Member Pál Schmitt received the Lifetime Achievement Award. MSÚSZ/ZSOLT HALMAGYI

Hungary's double Olympic champion and honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Pál Schmitt, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Hungarian Sports Journalists' Association at The Athlete of the Year 2023 Gala in Budapest this week. The trophy was presented to Pál Schmitt by Madame President Katalin Novák, Hungary's Head of State, and Zsolt Gyulay, President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee and a double Olympic champion himself.

Pál Schmitt, former President of Hungary, won two Olympic gold medals in épée fencing, in Mexico City in 1968 and in Munich in 1972. The sportsman of the nation was President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee for 21 years and a member of the IOC for 40 years.

The award was presented by the President of Hungary, Katalin Novák, and the President of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, Zsolt Gyulay, at the Hungarian State Opera House.

Pál Schmitt emphasised that the motto of the Olympic Movement, "Faster, Higher, Stronger", is very true in every aspect of life: "Together" must be added to this list.

The sports diplomat stressed that many people have accompanied and supported him on this journey of more than eight decades, and he is very grateful to his parents, his wife - Olympic silver medallist gymnast Katalin Makray - coaches, fellow athletes, colleagues, Hungarian sports journalists - and God, who has never stopped holding his hands.

The long-serving IOC member summed up his ars poetica by saying that sport is not only physical but also mental, that you have to shake hands whether you win or lose, and that he considers team spirit to be of the utmost importance.

Pál Schmitt recalled that during his presidency of the Hungarian NOC, he was so committed that he flew home 1,800 times from his diplomatic missions. As a result, he rarely accepts foreign invitations these days - although he will certainly make an exception for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

When he turns 80 in May 2022, the former world-class fencer will become an honorary member of the IOC, but Hungary - eighth on the all-time Summer Olympic medals table - won't be without a permanent member for long: Balázs Fürjes, a veteran sports administrator, was elected at the Mumbai session last October. Olympic swimming champion Dániel Gyurta's eight-year term on the Athletes' Commission runs until Paris 2024.