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Tamás Kenderesi: The butterfly prince to become the butterfly king in Budapest?

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Rio Olympic bronze medallist Tamás Kenderesi has become a fan favourite not only in Hungary, but throughout the world. The then-19-year-old swimmer beat Michael Phelps both in the heats and the semi-final of the 200 butterfly event, before finishing third in the final with a magnificent performance. He is a youth Olympic champion, as well as European senior bronze medallist, and he is dreaming of the gold medal at the 2017 FINA World Championships.

Tamás Kenderesi grew up in a small village in the county of Tolna, Southwest Hungary. His parents used to take him to the swimming club of Pécs, centre of the region, which was quite a nice gesture and effort of them, since they lived rather far from the city, and Kenderesi had two trainings every day.

It may seems a little bit funny today, but a lot of 'experts' thought he would never become a good swimmer. Thank God his parents and his coach Imre Tari believed in him, but his endurance was required as well to perform well.

2014 turned to be a turning point in his career. He won the gold medal at the European Junior Championships in Dordrecht in the 200m butterfly event, and also at the Hungarian Championship, beating world champion László Cseh and junior world champion Bence Biczó.

He finished in first place at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanking, too, breaking the junior world record.

In 2015 he beat László Cseh again in the Hungarian Championship with the second best time of the world that season. He was a secret favourite at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, but one week before the event he got infected with a virus causing mononucleosis. 

It was not the only accident that year: his ligament was injured during the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Netanya, a solid eight months before the Rio Olympics.

Despite this misfortune he still claimed the bronze medal at the 2016 European Championships in London, in addition, he finished third at the Rio Olympics after beating Michael Phelps both in the heats and the semi-final. Kenderesi’s time was 1:53.62 in the final.

"It was fantastic, I did my best, my dream has come true. I am very glad about my result and the fact that people in Hungary and across the world have learned my name. I paid attention to Michael and László, I managed to beat my compatriot. Michael was not too far either, I am very optimistic about the future." (, 10 August 2016)

"When I was young, I watched every event of Michael Phelps, so it was a great pleasure to me to race with him and to stand on the podium with him. I feel very grateful to him for his help."

"I wanted László to fulfil his dream, but he still has a chance to win the Olympic gold in the 100m butterfly event."

In the end László Cseh finished second along with Michael Phelps and Chad le Clos, but it was still a sweeping act of Tamás Kenderesi. In addition, the young swimmer helped a family which lost their home in a fire. He offered his sweat suit which he was wearing during the Rio Olympics for an online auction.

20-year-old Kenderesi has become one of the most popular athletes in Hungary, and he is well known throughout the world as well. His nickname is 'butterfly prince', but he can become the 'butterfly king' after the FINA World Championships in Budapest.


Born: Bonyhád (Hungary), 13 December 1996

Medal record:

Olympic bronze medallist (2016 Rio de Janeiro, 200m butterfly)

European bronze medallist (2016 London, 200m butterfly)

Youth Olympic champion (2014 Nanking, 200m butterfly)