03 OCT 1999 General News

World champion Szabo marries her coach


Andrei Nourescu for the IAAF

4 October 1999 – Bucharest, Romania  - Cheered by dozens of fans and fellow athletes, the women's 5000 metres World Champion Gabriela Szabo, 24,  on Saturday married her coach Zsolt Gyongyossy, 37. The couple first met in 1988 in the city where Gabriela was born, Bistrita, when she won a 600m cross-country race. Gaby and Zsolt have been considering marriage since 1997, but only decided to tie the knot this autumn. The witnesses were Nicolae Marasescu, General Secretary of the Romanian Athletics Federation, and his wife Mihaela.

At 3 pm, Gabriela and Zsolt entered the city hall of Bucharest where the the Mayor presided over the ceremony.

"I wish you to have at least three children, all of them world champions,'' George Padure, mayor of Bucharest's 1st District, said during the wedding ceremony.

Afterwards they left Bucharest for Snagov, a small village 30 km away from the Capital, where in the presence of about 90 guests, the reception took place in a huge palace, property of the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. The President of Romania Mr. Emil Constantinescu, accompanied by his wife, was one of the first to arrive, offering a huge bouquet of white roses with warm congratulations for the newly married couple.

During the celebrations, Gaby received a congratulatory fax from the President of IAAF, Dr. Primo Nebiolo and was called by her friend Svetlana Masterkova in Moscow. Other guests included Ion Tiriac, the President of the Romanian Olympic Committee, Gabriela’s Dutch manager Jos Hermens, Karl Stith, Marketing Manager of Nike for Europe and Africa, Pietro Chiodi from Mondo, Olympic high jumper Iolanda Balas, and athletes Nicoleta Grasu and Lidia Simon. As is the tradition at Romanian weddings, the bride was "kidnapped" from the party by Nicoleta Grasu’s husband, the former discus thrower Costel Grasu, and Zsolt was asked for a ransom to get Gaby back.

Gabriela Szabo was dressed in a sky-blue dress with blue pearls, created by Romanian designer Janine Stefan Sarbu, who also created Gaby's dress for the IAF World Athletics Gala this November 21 in Monaco. Gabriela and Zsolt plan to honeymoon on the Romanian Black Sea coast.

In the second half of October, Gabriela will go on a tour to five Romanian cities, to promote athletics among children and to organise, together with her principal sponsor "Izvorul Minunilor" (mineral water), five cross country races for children.