By Neha Aggarwal (Interview by Iulia Necula)
Somewhere in the late nineties in the city of Târgu Mureș, Romania, a waitress’ recommendation sowed the seeds of two table tennis stars of the country. Hunor Szocs was advised to start table tennis training and his parents happily introduced him to the sport. In no time he showed tremendous improvement and success, also inspiring his little sister Bernadette Szocs.
“I remember when I was very young and I went with my parents to support Hunor during a competition. I was so happy to see him win and to celebrate his victory that I got excited and wanted to be a part of it.” said Bernadette with a big bright smile.
That moment gave birth to the “Szocs Siblings” who became the Romanian National Champions together in 2012 and are now an important part of the Romanian national team.
Together in Bremen
Since the last five years, Hunor has been training in Bremen and is playing for the club Werder Bremen under the close supervision of coach Cristian Tamas, a former Romanian national player.
“I can really feel that since I started my collaboration with Cristian Tamas I made a major improvement. For me it’s very important that really understands me and my game, he is very supportive and pushes me every day. I am very happy and satisfied working with him.” says Hunor.
Bernadette will soon join her brother in Bremen in the quest to grow up the ladder, “I worked a few times in the past with Cristian being present at some training camps and that’s why I decided to move there, I believe that he can really help me improve both physically as well as technically.”
Hunor was the runner-up at the 2015 Belgium Open (with Bernadette as his coach!), semi finalist at the 2016 Belarus Open, which gave his career a big boost. “Since the result in Belgium, my confidence is high which also gave me the belief that I can reach at the elite level. My physical fitness has improved since then, I am stable and have been gaining valuable experience by regularly participating at the international events,” explained Hunor, now ranked 89th in the world.
Like Hunor, Bernadette has too achieved a steep improvement in her performance. A successful junior, she is now ranked 57th in the world. She has been a strong contender in the senior level and an important member of the team along with Eliza Samara. “While in juniors I was fighting to maintain my position in the senior team, but now things have changed. I am performing well and now a consistent member of the national team,” she said.
Besides her success on the table, Bernadette is also a successful fashionista. She models for the table tennis brand Tibhar and her Instagram profile speaks volumes of her beauty.
Fitness is key
Injuries are part of an athlete’s life and Bernadette was a victim of an injury in her arm during European Top 16 earlier this year.“I was in a good shape at the beginning of the year both at my club’s competition as well as internationally but after the injury it was really hard to deal with it mentally and lost a lot of confidence,” she admitted.
But the hard working young lady did not loose hope and is slowly getting back.
“Right now, I am fully recovered from my injury, although I am not completely fit I still need to work on my body. I hope to get to the Liebherr 2017 World Championships in good shape which will make me confident to achieve good results.”- Bernadette Szocs
Hunor on the other hand is fitter than ever before, hopes to continue his good run by competing regularly in matches with an increased support.
“There was a time when I had to do a lot of private investment for my preparation and it started to show off. Now I am getting support from my federation, club and other sponsors so it’s much easier to focus just on the important things.” said Hunor
The Szocs Siblings looked sharp at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Korea Open. Supporting each other as they continue their quest to be the best in the world is a beautiful reality of their lives. They change roles wonderfully, and support each other, as a coach, a sparring partner, a critique, a friend and of course a fun sibling.
The greatest gift their parents gave them was each other, and combining it with table tennis, they are exemplifying a perfect “sporty” sibling relationship.