By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | February 20, 2019
America’s Got Talent has brought some serious talent to the global audience ever since its inception 12 years ago. And one such dynamic performance was witnessed in the last edition in 2018, when Vivien Vajda from Hungary wowed the audience and the judges alike with twists, turns, mid-air jumps and somersaults, all with a rope in hand. Rope Jumping was featuring for the first time on AGT which had Simon Cowell, the brain behind AGT and one of the judges, comment that this is why he loved AGT because “it brings in talent from a wide spectrum and not just singing alone, which is what this show was all about, initially.”
Vivien hit a raw nerve when after receiving compliments from the judges broke into tears and confessed that she was bullied as a kid and sidelined by her coach and teammates.
The athletic 24-year-old who was born and raised in Hungary, graduated from Brazil in International Business and is currently living in Shanghai China, decided to take Jump Rope at the age of 10. “I saw a performance and I fell in love with the sport. I thought it was very unique, challenging and crazy from everything else I saw till then,” she says.
Vivien has the sporting genes: Her father Laszlo Vajda is a 10-time Hungarian Figure Skating Champion and winner of many international Championships. As expected, her parents were very supportive about her choice of sport and thought it was a “very interesting activity,” reveals Vivien.
Opening Doorz to Vivien Vajda, 14 times Jump Rope World Champion in individual events (speed and freestyle), who has also broken two World records and a European record, who reveals she still has no sponsors!
Such flawless performance, such speed, obviously there has been a lot of hard work, pain, injuries, times not wanting to practice… How has the journey been for you?
Thank you for the kind comments. Yes, in fact throughout my career I have had lots of injuries but honestly all the effort that I have put in was worth it because it gave me excellent results. In life, for everything we want to achieve we must pay the price for it. Want to have good grades at school? Gotta study hard; Wanna be a professional athlete? Gotta deal with injuries and hard practices!
I broke my knee one month prior to the Olympic Games in 2016, still my mental and my will to perform was stronger than the pain I felt. I carried the Olympic Torch and performed throughout the Olympics. It wasn’t easy but definitely worth it. I have won three World Championships with high fever. I have won many others with painful injuries. Even the America Got Talent (AGT) judge cuts I made it with two sprained ankles. It hurt very badly but at least I don’t have to regret that I did not try. Every tear, every sweat, every injury has made me stronger and transformed me into who I have become!
Such intense and complex moves don’t come easy. How many hours of practice do you put in daily?
It depends on where I live and my schedule. I usually practice gymnastics, freestyle jumping, speed jumping, I also do CrossFit as well apart from spending time on choreographing. So here’s the break-up of my daily schedule: Gymnastics about two hours plus, freestyle jumping two hours plus, speed jumping over an hour-and-a-half, CrossFit about two hours. In fact my practice time depends on the intensity of my practice and what is the goal for the practice. Sometimes I finish earlier, sometimes later.
Have there been many times when you found the practice too taxing and ever wondered why “I should put my body through this grind?”
Yes, there were times when it was very hard. It wasn’t always smooth; in fact, at times, my career has been quite bumpy. I was lucky to have my parents to keep the spirit in me alive and push me. Since I am their only child they did their best to put focus their attention on me. I broke the first World Record at the age of 13, won my first World Champion title at the age of 15. Since then I have won many more World Champion titles. However, till today I don’t have any sponsors.
I am very grateful to my parents for doing their very best, being my coaches and for never letting me down. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am now. I am very thankful to my sport as well because it took me to more than 22 countries, brought me to amazing events and made me meet so many wonderful people. I don’t think many people get to experience this and especially not at the age of 24. Now that I look back at my successes in my career I realize how STUPID I was to ever think about giving up, and I should apologize to my parents, to my fans and to my sport for allowing myself this mentality.
What’s a normal Vivien Vajda day like?
Normal Vivien Vajda day? Ha ha ha ha ha… definitely out of normal. Work, train, eat a little, sleep, and repeat. When I do stage shows and TV shows I am up till 3 am at times rehearsing and I have to wake up at 8 am to practice or go to stage. However, I still love it. It makes me very happy when I can perform for people; when I can bring them joy and make them smile with what I am doing. I love being on stage and I love the atmosphere of the show: the spotlights, clothes, music and the stage itself has so much energy. I think I barely have a normal, regular day ha ha ha ha ha…
You are 14 times World Champion? Have you won these titles on a trot or with a break in between?
Just like at swimming or gymnastics, jump rope also has multiple events. So each year I have won some of the events that I have participated in.
You have performed on AGT, that’s where I saw you. Like me, many who did not know about this sport are fascinated when they see you perform with such passion. How many such people you have enthused with your performances over the years?
How many people have I inspired throughout my jump rope years? Honestly, I have no idea. I do hope my example and my story will help a lot of people. I always wanted to be a person who can influence people in the positive way, help those who are going through hard times and make them realize they can be and they can reach anything they want with courage, hope and hard work. The most important thing is to do it by heart, to do it with love.
And what is the best compliment you have received so far?
The best compliments are usually silent. A smile and the sparkle in people’s eyes when I jump, when I teach, when I share, is the best and true compliment to me.
On AGT last year you said you were bullied and ridiculed by your teammates and coaches… How did you manage to get through that harrowing time?
Bullies will be there and bullies have always been there. As a child and a teenager, and sometimes even as a young adult, it is hard to put yourself over it. Doesn’t matter where you go, you will always find people who envy your life, try to blame you or hurt you because they cannot have what you have. I feel sorry for them because they spend their time on negativity and hatred and I also feel sorry for their victims because no one deserves to be hurt and treated bad.
What is your message to teenagers who are bullied?
For those who are the victims of bullying I wish them to be strong, and I wish them to stand up for themselves and work hard to prove them wrong just as I did. My father used to tell me, “It is better to have 1000 jealous people than one who feels sorry for you. You will only be envied by them if you are special. If they hurt you, don’t fight back with words but work harder than you ever did and pay it back with results. Words will come and go but results will stay forever. Be motivated to try your best to succeed and show kindness.”
And your message to those who bully?
For the bullies: I don’t know what you have been through in your life for acting like that, nor do I know why it satisfies you to hurt others. I really do hope that you can find peace instead of carrying hate with you and affect others with it. If you could treat others with kindness you would have more friends and trust. I feel sorry and I hope your life will become better.
To excel in anything in life, be it music, sport, studies, one needs a lot of passion and hard work and to be responsible to practice time. What is your message to teenagers who are good, say in music or sport but are not dedicated to their practice time or do not want to practice even though they have the ability to do well?
Do not waste your talent. If you are talented in something and it makes you happy just keep on doing it. Besides yourself, you could make so many other people happy by showing your talent and your passion. Do it with love and share it with others. Talent is a gift that has been given to you. Take the gift and make it useful.
You have performed all over the globe; which is the place that you have the best memories of?
Each country I have been to is lovely and special to me. They cannot really be compared because all of them have its own unique things and I loved visiting all of them.
Finally, any plans to visit India?
Yes, if there are any invitations to perform, teach, lecture in India I would surely love to come and share my passion from my sport and perform with people.
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