Gabriela Szabo – Romanian World Record Holder
Gabriela Szabo is a Romanian Olympic and World Championships track athlete. She is renowned for competing in 1500 m and 5000 m races, breaking several Olympic and world records. The Romanian athlete dominated track races between 1998 and 2002. Gabriela Szabo won 13 Golden League Meetings and is still the European record holder in 3000 m race (8:21.42 on 19th July 2002 in Monaco). Moreover, Szabo won 1 Olympic gold medal in 5000 m race (Sidney 2000), a Silver medal in 1500 m race (Atlanta 1996) and a Bronze medal in 1500 m race (Sydney 2000). Her amazing performances are completed by 3 gold medals in World Championships (5000 m – Athens 1997; 5000 m – Seville 1999; 1500 m – Edmonton 2001) and 4 World Indoor Championships gold medals ( 3000 m – Barcelona 1995; 3000 m – Paris-Bercy 1997; 1500 m – Maebashi 1999; 3000 m – Maebashi 1999). She is the youngest World Indoor Champion in 3000 m race (Barcelona 1995), winning the race at the age of 19.
The Romanian athlete started by practicing swimming and gymnastics. Due to her affinity for various sports, she was spotted by Gyongyossy Zsolt at the age of 12, during a 600 meters cross race. Under Zsolt’s supervision, who was her only coach, Gabriela Szabo turned into a world class athlete. The Romanian athlete showed remarkable talent by winning European Junior 3000 meters title at the age of 15. She successfully defended her title in the next two editions. The young Romanian established herself as one the most promising athletes by winning the silver medal in World Junior Championships 3000 m race (1992) and gold medal in World Junior Championships 3000 m race (Lisbon 1994).
Gabriela Szabo had a very successful senior career, becoming the youngest 3000 m Word Indoor Championships gold medalist in history. She finished second in 1500 m Olympic race in 1996. Among her amazing senior performances it is worth mentioning the fact that she set world record in women’s 2000 m race – 5:30.53 (Sindelfingen 1998), shattered world indoor record in 5000 m race – 14:47.35 (Dortmund 1999), set the Olympic record in women’s 5000 m race – 14:40.79 (Sydney 2000) and broke the world indoor record in 3000 m race – 8:32.88 (Birmingham 2001). Gabriela Szabo won all seven 3000 m Golden League meetings in 1999, earning half a million dollars. The Romanian was the first female athlete to win more than $ 1 million in prize money in one year.
Szabo was declared Women’s European Athlete of the Year and Women’s Track & Field Athlete of the Year in 1999. Gabriela set the 6 best year’s performance in 3000 m race (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003) and 2 best year’s performances in 5000 m race (1998 and 1999). Unfortunately, Gabriela Szabo announced that she would retire quite soon, after quitting a race in 2004. She officially retired in 2005, at the age of 30, invoking fatigue.
Gabriela Szabo is one of the greatest athletes during mid 1990s and early 200s. She is a symbol of fighting spirit (renowned for her final sprints) and an example of overpassing one’s limits. Furthermore, the Romanian athlete was one of the most discrete stars, choosing to train at a remote farm in South Africa, far away from the praying eyes of the media.
Today, 14th of November 2014, is Gabriela Szabo is turning 39 years old and AthsLife team wishes her Happy Birthday (La Multi Ani Gabi!)!