Tribute courtesy of Erzsébet Büki
and modified by Jenn
Prior to the early 1980s, the Hungarian women's artistic
gymnastics program was relatively successful. Their gymnasts showed respectable
standings in major competitions and qualified to a decent number of event finals
in major championships. Unfortunately, the 1980-1984 quadrennium marked a
drought in Hungarian gymnastics.
Promising juniors, like Tünde
Zsilinszki (1982 Jr. European champion on beam), emerged but no real
breakthroughs came. The Hungarians experienced disappointment even in their own
backyard: At the 1983 World Championships (held in Budapest, Hungary) the
Hungarian team placed 9th (their worst finish in over 30 years of competition),
Erika Csányi (their top AA gymnast) failed to place in the top 15, and not one
gymnast qualified to the event finals. Among the main reasons for these
weaknesses were the frequent injuries that set back young talents and the fact
that the most difficult skills of the time (e.g., full-ins on floor) were
missing from their repertoire of skills.
In 1984, a new generation of
Hungarian gymnasts emerged. Beáta
Storczer was perhaps the most illustrious of the new
generation of gymnasts, with an excellent repertoire of skills. Like many
eastern European gymnasts, she gained valuable experience as a youngster at the
Junior European and Druzhba (Junior Friendship) competitions. Her performances
impressed the Hungarian team leaders, and she was selected for the 1984
Hungarian Olympic team. Leading up to the Olympics, she and her teammates
trained for two weeks in Deva with the Romanian team. Unfortunately, the
Hungarian team never made it to the Olympics. Because of the Soviet boycott, the
Hungarians found themselves competing in the Alternate Games (Olomouc) instead.
This was Storczer's first major competition, and she did well - she was the
first alternate on floor.
Throughout her career, Storczer was
known for her floor work. She was the first Hungarian female gymnast to master
the full-in on floor (granted, teammate Andrea Ladányi was not far behind), and
by 1987 she was performing double layouts. Storczer's skills on FX were
complemented by top-notch choreographer. In an attempt to salvage their program,
the Hungarians brought Natalia Klimenko, a famous Soviet choreographer, to
Hungary to work with the national team. The hard work paid off and Storczer went
on to qualify to the floor event finals at three major competitions during her
career (1985 Euros, 1987 Euros, and the 1988 Olympics).
At the 1985 European Championships,
Storczer qualified to the floor finals in 4th place. A medal was within reach,
but sadly she sad down her final double tuck, finishing 8th. For the 1985 World
Championships, the Hungarians assembled an incredibly strong team. Prior to the
start of the competition, head coach József Lukács voiced his approval, "It
has been a long time since we have had such a strong team. I've got no reason to
complain." The Hungarians finished 8th as a team, an improvement
over the 1983 World Championships. Although Storczer just missed the floor
finals (she was again the first alternate), the Hungarians did qualify a gymnast
to floor - Andrea Ladányi's spot in the line up proved the power and depth of
At the 1987 European Championships,
Storzcer's strong skills (full-in, double layout, double tuck, etc.) and
choreography earned her a 5th place finish on floor. Storczer had officially
made a name for herself. The 1988 Olympics were fast approaching, and Storczer
appeared to be peaking just in time.
Leading up to the Olympics, the
Hungarian coaches introduced a special rule for in-house competitions
(competitions between Hungarian gymnasts). In an attempt to curb their frequent
problem of stepping out of bounds, it was decided that this error would result
in a 0.2 point deduction (rather than the regular 0.1 deduction). Even a stop on
the line was counted as a mistake. Storczer made the Olympic floor finals, but
ironically stepped out of bounds, finishing 5th. She would not have medalled
even without the step, so her 5th place finish was welcomed anyways. She was
seen as having lifted Hungarian women's gymnastics out of mediocrity.
The 1988 Olympics are surely very
memorable for Storzcer for another reason as well. It was during these Games
that her fiancé (and now husband) János
Martinek became Olympic champion in modern pentathlon
(both in individual and team competition). She was the first
to give him a kiss at the destination-point!
Storczer did not retire after the Olympics.
Originally slotted to be the alternate, she found herself competing at the 1989
European Championships in Brussels when teammate Valéria Kiss was injured during podium training.
At 20 years of age, she was by far the most experienced Hungarian entry.
Although she finished 8th on the uneven bars, the attention had turned to young
Hungarian superstar Henrietta Onodi.
Storczer's last major competition
was the 1989 World Championships. Unfortunately, the events of this competition
remain an unpleasant memory for her. Prior to team finals, she injured her leg
during warm-up and would not compete. Her teammates viewed the injury as a means
of escape (a "cop out") and Storczer criticized her harshly, feeling that she had left the
team in the lurch. Onodi's comment was the mildest, "I know that Bea's leg hurts,
but whose doesn't? She could have set her jaw for the team."
Storczer was ostracized, forced to watch the final
rotation (four best teams) compete apart from her teammates.
Although Storczer continued to
compete past the 1989 World Championships, her heart was not in gymnastics. In
an interview in 1990, she spoke about her love for flowers. She later went on to
attend a course on becoming a florist. Storzcer obviously never lost her love for
competition though. She later took up aerobics, competing quite successfully
(she often medalled at Hungarian Nationals).
Storczer currently resides in
Budapest. She is married to János Martinek (her fiancé from the 1988 Olympic
Games) and they have either one or two children.
. This page was created on February 17, 2000.