The 2020 Olympics

By Flora Molnar

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There are moments in life you’ll never forget.

For me, one of those moments was back in 2016 when I stepped into the arena for the first time. I took a moment to look around and let it sink in.

It felt unreal.

The entire arena was filled with passionate fans. Thousands of them. 

I felt chills – the good kind.

I couldn’t believe I was actually standing there.

As I looked around and soaked it all up, it hit me.

I’m an Olympic athlete!

Starting Out

If someone would’ve told my five-year-old self that I’d become an Olympic swimmer for Hungary one day, I would’ve had a good chuckle.

Because honestly, I didn’t exactly love swimming when I first started. All of my older brothers swam, and I think my parents just threw me into it to make their schedules a bit easier.

It really took me a while to fall for it.

But, once I did, nothing could stop me. All of a sudden, I never wanted to leave the water.

I loved it.

And my eyes were set on a big goal from the get-go – the Olympics.

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This gave me time to soak in the Olympic atmosphere. And man, it's definitely an experience. It's a truly magical place. The energy among all the athletes and fans has to be among the best in all sporting events. Between the competition and the pride of representing your home country, there's nothing better.

2016 Olympics

There was always something fascinating about the Olympics.

The idea of experiencing this all first-hand one day really motivated me to go all-in. I worked my butt off to turn this dream into a reality.

And in 2016, I did.

Qualiyfing for the Olympics was nerve-racking.

I was confident the whole time, but making those Olympic times was tough. Really tough.

And as it turned out, I needed the very last day to make it happen. 

I’m not even making that up.

It was hit or miss.

I’d either make the qualifying time on this last day or wait another four years and give it another shot.

But luckily, it all turned out well.

It was a moment I’ll never forget.

When we got to Rio, I had a long wait until my race. 

This gave me time to soak in the Olympic atmosphere. And man, it’s definitely an experience. It’s a truly magical place.

The energy among all the athletes and fans has to be among the best in all sporting events. Between the competition and the pride of representing your home country, there’s nothing better.

The biggest obstacle I faced while at the Olympics was training alone. My coach couldn’t come with me, so I had three weeks to prepare for the biggest race of my life. Alone.

At the time, I was a wide-eyed, 18-year-old kid who was in awe of everything around me. Remaining focused wasn’t always the easiest.

Finally, it was my time to compete against some of the best swimmers in the entire world. 

And I finished the race 25th.

I was incredibly proud of my performance. I could say I was among the top 25 swimmers in the world in my category.

But with that said, I wanted more. 

The moment the 2016 Olympics were over, my eyes were set on the 2020 Olympics.

I wanted to do it again.

Oh, and by the way…

Did I mention that I ran into Usain Bolt and snagged a picture with him? He is one of my favorite athletes of all time. Getting a chance to meet him and share this moment together was amazing.

Meantime

Now that the 2016 Olympics were a thing of the past, I had to figure out what’s next.

And next for me was college.

I never saw myself coming to the United States, or even leaving Hungary for that matter. Sure, some colleges started contacting me after the Olympics, but I didn’t think it was for me.

Then in August, my coach and I went to Denver for a week-long swimming camp.

During that time, I toured the University of Colorado. I was blown away by the campus and facilities.

So, I decided I’ll give this whole college thing another look.

I was specifically looking at schools in the south. And Alabama stood out. Their top-notch athletic facilities and resources almost made it a no-brainer.

But once I got to Alabama, I started to miss Hungary almost immediately. 

Homesickness hit me hard.

The transition was tough, not going to lie. Coming to a new country is scary. 

Despite having great teammates and coaches, I just felt out of it.

Until I met my boyfriend.

I know it might sound a little cheesy, but he’s helped with the transition more than I can put into words. I’m beyond grateful that we met. 

I’ve really settled in since and embraced what’s in front of me.

Alabama has a great coaching staff, a fantastic team, and it’s the perfect opportunity to help me improve. 

Since Coley Stickels and the new coaching staff took over, I’ve seen incredible improvements in my swimming.

His style of training is just what I need to push me to where I need to be next.

My Year

I’m hopeful that I can represent Hungary in both the 2020 European Championships in Budapest and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

I know what it takes to get there, and I’m ready to work.

Some people may think I’m out of the picture, but I’m going to prove them wrong. While I try not to pay attention to outside noise and focus on myself, it feels good to prove your doubters wrong.

2020 is going to be my year.

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