Mór Kóczán - Athletics Career and Pastoral Service

Athletics Career and Pastoral Service

He began training athletics during his high school years and in 1900 he was already a member of Budapesti TC. An all-around athlete, Kóczán competed in the discus throw, the shot put and the javelin throw, achieving his best results in the latter one. In 1908 he was invited to an athletics competition in Budapest, which he won with a throw of 57.05 metres – a result better than the then World record –, and made into the Olympic team as well. Between 1909 and 1911 he broke his own record further three times, however, the IAAF officially ratified the World record since 1912, therefore these results remained unofficial. Kóczán competed at the 1908 Summer Olympics in the discus throw event, the Greek discus competition, the freestyle javelin event, and the shot put competition, but remained without any success.

In 1910 Kóczán switched to Ferencvárosi TC, in their color he won the inaugural javelin throw event of the Hungarian Athletics Championships in 1911, which was followed by another four titles (1912–14, 1918). He also triumphed in a number of national and international competitions, including the Austrian Athletics Championships in 1913 and the British Athletics Championships in 1914.

Kóczán participated at the 1912 Summer Olympics under the pseudonym Mór Kovács to avoid conflicts with the church, which opposed his sporting activities. In the qualyfing round of his main event, the javelin throw, Kóczán topped his group and achieved third best overall result with 54.99 metres. In the final round he improved it to 55.50 but could not match defending champion Eric Lemming (60.64) and Julius Saaristo (58.66), and eventually won the bronze medal thus becoming the first non-Scandinavian to win a medal in the javelin throw at the Olympic Games as well as the first Hungarian to win an Olympic medal in athletics. In the two handed javelin throw competition Kóczán finished 12th and in the discus throw event he came 33rd.

In 1914, after seven years of pastoral service in Csallóközaranyos, and shorter spells in Diósjenő (1909) and Diósförgepatony (Orechová Potôň; March 1910–May 1910), Kóczán was relocated to Csilizradvány (Čiližská Radvaň). In the same year he married to Karola Halász, with whom he had two daughters, Gizella and Edit. Upon the reluctance of the church towards athletics toned down, Kóczán formed a sports club in Csilizradvány and organized the sporting life of village.

Following the World War I the northern Hungarian territories, including Csilizradvány became part of the newly formed Czechoslovak state. Kóczán, taking the minority life, remained with his congregation and continued his pastoral work. He also participated in the Czechoslovak athletics contests, competing for Sparta Prague. Kóczán won the javelin throw event at the 1920 national championship and represented Czechoslovakia at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, however, he could not repeat his former performances and finished only 23rd in the javelin throw. He gave up professional sport in 1926.

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