News18 Jul 2023

Gyulai Istvan Memorial recognised with Heritage Plaque


The Gyulai Istvan Memorial (© Organisers)

To mark next month’s World Athletics Championships Budapest 23, Hungary’s premier one-day track & field meeting – the Gyulai Istvan Memorial – has been awarded the World Athletics Heritage Plaque.

This year’s edition of Hungary’s World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting takes place today (18) at the Bregyo Athletic Center in Szekesfehervar.

The plaque is the second to be awarded to Hungary this year. At the opening of the MOWA Heritage Exhibition in Budapest on 14 April, coaching great Mihaly Igloi was honoured in the posthumous category of ‘Legend’. The plaque was announced by World Athletics CEO Jon Ridgeon, who presented the award to Miklos Gyulai, President of the Hungarian Athletics Association, for their safe keeping until a permanent location for its display is agreed.

The World Athletics Heritage Plaque is a location-based recognition, awarded for an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of the sport of track and field athletics and of out-of-stadia athletics disciplines such as cross country, mountain, road, trail and ultra-running, and race walking.

The Gyulai Istvan Memorial, which is a member of the annual Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix series, was founded in 2011, and because of its young age would superficially seem to be an unusual recipient of a heritage award.

However, the meeting is linked to two of the most influential figures in Hungarian athletics history and has been an important engine for the development of the sport in Hungary since its creation.

The Memorial is the successor of the world-famous Budapest Grand Prix of the 1980s and was created in memory of Istvan Gyulai (1943-2006), annually celebrating the sporting legacy of the 1964 Olympic sprinter who was a 28-time Hungarian athletics champion.

Istvan Gyulai in action

Istvan Gyulai in action (© Gyulai Istvan Memorial)

Gyulai, a written and broadcast sports journalist and commentator, was Head of Sport of Hungarian Television (MTV). An IAAF Council Member from 1984 to 2001, he later served as the General Secretary of both the IAAF (1991-2006) and the International Sports Press Association from 1989 to 1992. He was also Chairman of the IAAF Press Commission from 1991 to 2003 and Vice President of Hungarian Athletics Association from 1991 to 2001. Gyulai was appointed Honorary Life President of the Hungarian Athletics Federation in 2001.

Every year the athlete with the best result at the Gyulai Istvan Memorial, as calculated by the World Athletics Scoring Tables, receives the Dr. Bojidar Spiriev Trophy.

The award is made in memory of Dr. Bojidar Spiriev who four decades ago invented the scoring tables which serve as a basis for the current World Athletics World Rankings. Each year the trophy is presented by Attila Spiriev, son of Dr. Bojidar Spiriev and sports director of the Gyulai Istvan Memorial – Hungarian Athletics Grand Prix.

The World Athletics competition permit for the Gyulai Istvan Memorial is annually awarded to the Hungarian Athletics Association. Appropriately, it will be Istvan’s oldest son Miklos, the association’s president, who will receive the plaque during the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23. A permanent location for the plaque has yet to be decided.

The plaque, which has been bestowed in the category of ‘Competition’, is the 87th plaque to have been awarded worldwide since the creation of the World Athletics Plaque was announced by World Athletics President Sebastian Coe at a World Athletics Heritage Night in Monaco in December 2018.

Chris Turner for World Athletics Heritage