Hajós was born in Budapest, Hungary, as Arnold Guttmann. He was 13 years old when he felt compelled to become a good swimmer after his father drowned in the Danube River. He took the name Hajós (sailor in Hungarian) for his athletic career because it was a Hungarian name. Titled as the“Hungarian Dolphin”, the 18-year old Hajós won his two gold medals in extremely cold weather with 12-foot (4 m) waves crashing down on him.
In 1896, Hajós was an architecture student in Hungary when the Athens Games took place. He was allowed to compete, but permission from the university to miss class had not come easy. When he returned to the Dean of the Polytechnical University, the dean did not congratulate Hajós on his Olympic success, but instead said: "Your medals are of no interest to me, but I am eager to hear your replies in your next examination."
The best known sports facility designed by Hajós is the swimming stadion built on Margitsziget (Margaret Island) in the Danube in Budapest, which was built in 1930, and used for the 1958, 2006 and 2010 European Aquatics Championships, and the 2006 FINA Men's Water Polo World Cup.
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