Barna, Victor

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BARNA, VICTOR (Vic , formerly Gyozo Braun ; 1911–1972), table tennis champion, winner of 22 world championships in singles, doubles, and team play. Born in Budapest to a printer, Barna learned table tennis playing at the local sports club before joining the Hungarian national team that won the 1929 Swaythling Cup. Barna won his first world singles title in 1930 in Berlin, eventually winning five world singles titles, including four consecutively in the 1930s, plus 17 others in men's and mixed doubles and team championships for Hungary. He also won several open tournaments in North America, Europe, and Australia. Barna's singles career ended when his right (playing) arm was severely injured in an auto accident in 1935, though he continued playing doubles and indeed won the 1939 world championships in mixed doubles. Barna moved to France in 1936 and played there professionally, before moving to England just before the outbreak of World War ii. He adopted British nationality and competed for Britain the rest of his career. He played his last world championships in 1954, when he was runner-up in the men's doubles. Barna was noted for his legendary backhand drive, known as the "Barna Flick," and for being extremely agile on his feet, with terrific powers of anticipation and concentration. He is credited with popularizing the sport of table tennis worldwide. He was recognized in his native Hungary as "the most successful Hungarian sportsman of the twentieth century." He wrote Table Tennis Today (1962).

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]