World 110m hurdles bronze medallist Balazs Baji was voted 2017 Hungarian Sportsman of the Year at the Hungarian Sportspeople of the Year Gala which was staged at the National Theatre in Budapest on Thursday (11).
At 28, Baji had the best season of his career thus far, setting two national indoor records in the 60m hurdles (7.53) and three national outdoor records in the 110m hurdles (13.15). He claimed Hungary’s first ever medal on the track at the IAAF World Championships in London before winning the World University Games title in Taipei three weeks later.
Fourth and second in the last two European Championships, Baji is one of the medal favourites in Berlin this summer but his immediate focus is the indoor season culminating with the IAAF World indoor Championships in Birmingham in March. He will open his season domestically in Budapest on 20 January with Berlin (26 January), Dusseldorf (6 February), Metz (11 February) and Torun (15 February) also on the itinerary.
Baji has been juggling his athletics career with his studies up until now but he credits finishing his degree in veterinary science for his vast improvements on the track last season.
"There could be several reasons for it, but perhaps one of the most important is that I graduated from the University of Veterinary Science, so this weight has been taken off my shoulders,” he said. "I had some difficult moments when the workload got heavy, but I do not feel like I am overwhelmed anymore.”
Baji topped the poll on the men’s side with an unassailable 863 points ahead of fencer Andras Szatmari (341 points). Swimmer Katinka Hosszu topped the women’s poll for the sixth year in succession with 1086 points ahead of tennis player Timea Babos (480 points) and world shot put silver medallist Anita Marton (448 points).