Budapest - Let
her rivals beware. Hungarian Olympic champion and multiple world record
holder Katinka Hosszu, nicknamed the "Iron Lady", is looking forward
with relish to the world swimming championships in Budapest.
"It is always a special feeling to be on the blocks before a home
crowd," the 28-year-old told local website Index.hu in the gleaming new
meet venue the Duna Arena where she has been training for months.
"I will know each and every little tile here in the ground, they will
greet me, and I will them. This is the advantage of the home track,"
After the Rio Olympics last year, where Hosszu won three gold medals
and a silver, she said Budapest was "the obvious next stop to get
Hosszu will compete in the 200m and 400m individual medleys, 100m and
200m backstroke, 200m freestyle and 200m butterfly, just as at the last
world championships in Kazan, Russia.
Few would bet against her at least matching the two individual medley
golds she won in Kazan, although Hosszu admitted to a degree of
"This pool is so beautiful, that it also puts a little pressure on us
Hungarians, now we all have to swim fast for sure," she said.
Currently Hungary's most successful
sports star, she is also the first ever race-prize dollar millionaire
swimmer, a testament to her shrewd grasp of earning potential and
marketing as well as her talent.
One of the few swimmers to have her own swimsuit brand - "Iron Lady"
of course - she also holds live conferences with her half a million fans
Her fortunes turned soon after a disastrous London Olympic Games in
which she missed out on podium finishes despite high expectations.
"I was so nervous about what would happen if I lost and didn't get a medal," she admitted.
Her then boyfriend now husband Shane Tusup, who she met when both
were swimming at the University of Southern California, took over as
coach soon after.
Tusup's intense, emotional reactions to Hosszu's races have become an
internet sensation, with NBC's official Olympics Twitter account urging
women to 'find someone who loves you the way Katinka Hosszu's husband
"London was a milestone in my life, I realised then that mental
preparation can be done differently... I don't believe the impossible
exists, if the road to success is well built," said Hosszu.
The couple closed ranks, however, when it came to criticism of
Tusup's intensive training methods, with some swimming insiders
suggesting that they constituted abuse, a claim fiercely rejected by
In Rio, Olympic redemption came quickly.
She shattered the world record in her first event the 400m IM, won
gold in the 100m backstroke, and managed an Olympic record the 200m IM.
Her response to some not-so-veiled suggestions that her improvement
since London was not due solely to hard work was met with now trademark
Hosszu sued Swimming World after the magazine published an opinion
piece in which former Canadian swimmer Casey Barrett asked: "Are Katinka
Hosszu's performances being aided?"
A court in the US publication's home state threw out the case on free speech grounds but Hosszu remained unabashed.
Nor has she been shy about confronting the swimming establishments, at home and abroad.
Last year she twice won disputes with the powerful Hungarian swimming
federation, forcing the resignations of both its head coach and
The latter, Tamas Gyarfas, also current vice-head of world governing
body FINA, quit his Hungarian post after Hosszu said he ruled the sport
in an undemocratic manner.
This year FINA itself has been in Hosszu's sights.
In a Facebook post she accused the body of not fairly distributing
television revenues to athletes, restricting their commercial
opportunities, and creating "destructive rules" like limiting the number
of World Cup disciplines a swimmer can compete in.
Then days before the start of the Budapest meet, she launched a pro
swimming union (GAPS) backed by 14 other Olympic champions, and called
on FINA to "sit down and start talking to us... as equal partners".