News & Updates

10 March 2021 • Track and Field

Q and A with Lili Szabo

Lili Szabo on her way to third place at the Potts Classic (Photo: Mark Roberts) 

Lili Szabo has firmly established herself as one of New Zealand’s leading long jumpers after recording top-three placings at the Potts, Porritt and Capital Classic meets this season. We found out a little more about the 21-year-old Wellington Harriers athlete via our regular Q and A.

Why did you start athletics? 

I started doing athletics seriously around five years ago, when I moved to New Zealand. I used to be a competitive show jumper back in my home in Hungary but, when my family moved here, we had to sell my horse. I was always very active and I decided to take up athletics, because I liked the idea of running fast!

What was the last piece of athletics advice you received? 

“Stop saying you can’t do it, start saying you can!” from my coach, Mike Ritchie.

What has been your career highlight? 

To be honest, I consider the whole of this season my career highlight. I feel like finally everything is coming together, both in my jumping and sprinting, and I’m improving with every single training session and competition I do.

What has been your athletics low? 

In 2018 I didn’t achieve any of the results I did in previous years and I felt like I was going backwards. I was thinking about stopping the sport but I’m glad I kept to it.

Where do you see your athletics career ten years from now? 

I hope I will still be doing athletics when I’m 31 wherever I’ll be in the world and be happy with the results that I have achieved during my career.

What is your greatest mistake in athletics? 

I’m a perfectionist and I tend to over-analyse everything I do. I need to learn to just trust myself, listen to my coach and live in the moment rather than the future.

Which athlete is the most interesting to follow on social media? 

Baji Balazs, a Hungarian hurdler who won bronze at the 2017 London World Champs and the first Hungarian to place in a track event at a world competition. Seeing someone from my country train and perform so well, motivates me to do so too.

Do you have a favourite athletics social media post? 

Yes, the post I made when I won Jumps to Music! I love how the crowd got behind me and every other competitor and it was the first big competition that I won!

If you could change one thing about the sport, what would it be and why? 

The wind readings! Most of the time that I perform well in both sprints and jumps, tend to be with illegal winds. I wish we could still count those as PBs!

Which athlete do you most admire from your event? 

Kate Hall, who is an American long jumper, is someone I look up to. She has Type 1 Diabetes just like me and competes at the world level! She inspires me that no matter your condition, you can still achieve amazing things if you put the effort into it.

Outside of athletics what is your greatest accomplishment this year? 

I am happy to have finished my bachelor degree in communications and started working full time this year as a content writer.

What was your most embarrassing moment in high school? 

I don’t remember having one. My goal was always to have fun and enjoy myself, so I never really felt embarrassed.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why? 

I’m a horse girl at heart, so I would be a horse. I would still be able to compete, run faster than I can now and I would have a human best friend.

Do you have a nickname? 

Not really, but some people call me Lils!

If you could have a superpower what would it be and why? 

To be able to teleport, so I could go anywhere in the world whenever I want for free!

What is the funniest joke you know? 

Why aren’t koalas actual bears? They don’t meet the koalafications.

Where do you see yourself when you are 50? 

I see myself living a happy life somewhere in Europe with a family, a great sporting career behind me, working as a television presenter!

What is the most ridiculous fact you know? 

A glass ball can bounce higher than a rubber one.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be and why?

For diabetes to not exist. There are too many of us living with this condition and it can be a pain sometimes! 

If you could host a talk show what three guests would you invite and why?

Sport has always played a great part in my life, so I would love to have the chance to sit down and talk to three great sportspeople about their sporting journeys: Rafael Nadal, because of his determination and focus; Dia Detre, a Hungarian Olympian, in windsurfing, who I consider a great friend and one of my greatest inspirations (I used to train with her in showjumping); and Mario Gotze, a German football player, who has made an amazing comeback after an illness prevented him from playing for a few years!