"A real closure" for Márti and Rita after 20 years of synchro skating
The Hungarian Team Passion at the 2023 Worlds.
Márti Afonyi, 27, and Rita Farkas, 26, are two Hungarian synchronized skaters who finished their long careers in the country's national team, Team Passion, this year—for the second time. Originally quitting already in 2021, exhausted by the pandemic and new life changes, they both then decided to return for one more year for the 2022-2023 season which turned out to be a great Hungarian success story. In this interview, the girls reflect on their personal journey as well as their team's journey to the synchronized skating elite and share their biggest takeaways from the sport.
Márti has been on the ride since 2012 and Rita since 2015, missing only the 2021-2022 season.
Márti: "When the pandemic started in 2020, it was also the year I started to work, and next to it, I started this new bachelor training program. Additionally, I started to work as a coach for the Team Passion Basic Novice team. So, I had a lot going on, and despite all the training, we didn't have any competitions. I started feeling really tired and felt like I couldn't keep up with everything. I didn't want to become a skater who hates the sport; I wanted to end it before I felt hate towards it."
Rita: “I wanted to stop skating after the Worlds in 2020 when they were planning to hold them in Lake Placid. But that’s when COVID started. So, I was like ‘okay, I can’t finish my skating career like this without Worlds. That’s why I decided to stay one more year [for the 2020-2021 season] – when they also cancelled everything! It was rewarding to skate at training, but you know, the highlight of the sport is the competitions, at least for me. I was tired after two years of skating without [competitions], and I also wanted to focus more on my work and education.”
Rita: “During COVID, the team was lucky enough to be able to train… I don’t think the coaches changed their methods. I think the team just had to get there. We were able to perform well under pressure and consistently. Also, now we have a lot of figure skaters on the team, so the basic knowledge of skating is stronger. Synchro in Hungary is getting more and more popular and it’s a great way for figure skaters to continue their career.”
You both skated the last year knowing that was now for sure going to be the last one. How was the 2022-2023 season as an experience?
Márti: “All I wanted to do that season was to enjoy. I had a totally different mentality than before and I think it was really good because when anything came up that was a little bit negative or difficult, I could let it go easily. I knew that this was my last season, this was my last opportunity, and I wanted to do everything I could to enjoy it and to bring out my best.”
Rita: “It’s the same [for me], I just got to that point later in the season. Overall, I’m really glad that I went back. Even without the final result at the Worlds, I would be happy that I gave myself that chance to really finish my career.”
Rita: “It was shortly after the first competitions in that [2021-2022] season where I saw the team competing. They were really, really good and they got good results… I had a lot of mixed feelings because I was happy for them, but I was also sorry for myself because I wasn’t part of that. We were watching the Worlds… and Márti was like ‘okay, so I’m thinking of going back to skating’, and I was like ‘huh, maybe that’s an option’.”
Márti: “For me, it was a bit earlier, I think it was in 2022 February… I was missing the team, and I felt that I could be an active athlete still. At that time, there were the Winter Olympic Games in that February, and I watched it and saw so many skaters in their thirties… and it got to me that I still have potential in me. I wanted a real closure for myself after 20 years of skating.”
Márti: “My first plan is to finish my education… Then I’d like to grow my knowledge to become a great coach and keep up with my coaches… Now I also have a new job, which I start in two weeks, at the Hungarian Skating Federation.I have an adult team, Team Thunder – I will be coaching them and Team Passion. It would be really good if synchro grew in Hungary, and I’d like to be a part of it.”
Rita: “I’m hopefully getting my degree in sports psychology soon, so I would like to focus on my career. I also want to stay close to the ice, so I am coaching the little skaters in Team Passion mini.
“It would be really good if synchro grew in Hungary, and I’d like to be a part of it.”
Márti: “I learned that it’s very important to cooperate with others to achieve a shared goal that have thought about together. That I’m not alone in this and what I do is going to impact other people. And I have to respect them because they are putting in as much effort as I am. Throughout the years, I think I wouldn’t be the same person if I didn’t do synchro, because my whole personality grew throughout the years, with the team.”
Rita: “You learn to fight for stuff. You will learn to concentrate and be able to work with others. But for me, the biggest things that this taught me was to really appreciate the good people I have around me and to really appreciate that you get to do something that you love – not everyone can do what they love for 20 years.”