Ágnes Keleti, the oldest living Olympic champion, turns 100 on January 9 ©Getty Images

The life of Ágnes Keleti, the oldest living Olympic champion who is due to celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday (January 9), has been marked by the publication of an ebook recently translated into English.

Because I Love Life - The Queen of Gymnastics, 100 years of Agnes Keleti has been published by the Hungarian Gymnastics Federation to mark the centenary of the remarkable competitor who earned 10 Olympic medals, including five golds, after evading the Nazis throughout the Second World War.

Keleti’s father and uncles were among the 550,000 Hungarian Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, perishing after being sent to Auschwitz.

Her mother and sister went into hiding and were saved by Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who found a place for them in Budapest in a "Swedish house". Keleti, left on her own, bought the identity papers of a Christian girl and spent the rest of the war working as a furrier and as a maid for a Nazi-sympathising family in a small Hungarian village.

The work, available at lira.hu, contains 300 photos and tells the story of the past century from Keleti’s point of view.

It includes 36 interviews undertaken before the advent of the global pandemic with team mates, family members, students and friends from Hungary, Australia, Israel and the United States.

Among the interviewees was Olga Tass, who won team gold with Hungary at the 1956 Olympics and who died on July 10 last year aged 91.

Former Hungarian gymnast Ágnes Keleti, the oldest living Olympic champion, won 10 Olympic medals in total ©Getty Images
Former Hungarian gymnast Ágnes Keleti, the oldest living Olympic champion, won 10 Olympic medals in total ©Getty Images

Dezső Dobor, co-author of the book with Sándor Dávid, told Maccabi.hu: "We wanted to create a memorial column formed of words for Ágnes Keleti, bowing to her talent and success.

"This will be a complete and permanent testament to her story. We hope that our book is able to capture and conserve the elements of Keleti’s story for anyone reading in the future: how people lived here, how a phenomenon lived among them, an artist who paved the way for the sport and still shows us her serenity, her health, her wisdom."

The publication, which has a foreword by 1968 and 1972 Olympic fencing team champion and former Hungarian President Pál Schmitthas its own Facebook page, and can be downloaded as an ebook from Multimediaplaza.

In a message to the press conference marking the book’s initial launch in November, Keleti said she happily welcomed the book about her and couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Keleti, who sought political asylum in Israel following the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, recently moved back to her birthplace in Budapest, where she is expected to have a quiet 100th birthday celebration with her family.

For the full Big Read on Keleti and some of the world's other oldest Olympians, click here.