Imre Pulai (born November 14, 1967 in Budapest) is a Hungarian sprint canoeist, who won two Olympic medals in the Canadian canoeing event, including a gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics with teammate Ferenc Novák.
|Men’s canoe sprint|
|2000 Sydney||C-2 500 m|
|1996 Atlanta||C-1 500 m|
|1993 Copenhagen||C-4 1000 m|
|1994 Mexico City||C-4 1000 m|
|1995 Duisburg||C-1 1000 m|
|2003 Gainesville||C-4 1000 m|
|1994 Mexico City||C-1 500 m|
|1999 Milan||C-2 500 m|
|1995 Duisburg||C-1 500 m|
|2003 Gainesville||C-4 500 m|
As a twenty-year-old, Pulai reached the C-1 1000 m final at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, finishing in sixth place. However, it was not until five years later that he won the first of his four world championship gold medals - in the C-4 1000 m in Copenhagen. In 1994, he retained that title and a year later, he was individual world champion, ending Ivans Klementjevs's run of five straight victories in Duisburg. That achievement earned him the title of 1995 Hungarian Sportsman of the Year. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, he won the C-1 500 m bronze medal.
After Atlanta, his career took another dip until he teamed up with Ferenc Novák in the C-2. In 1999, their first season together, the pair were world silver medalists and went on to win the C-2 500 m gold medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. When the two were paired up, they became known as "The Monster and the Little Guy" because of the size differential between them (Pulai was 6' 6.5" (1.99 m) and weighed 214 lb (97 kg) while Novák was 5' 8" (1.72 m) and weighed 170 lb (77 kg).).
In 2003 Pulai won his fourth world championship gold in the C-4 1000 m at Gainesville, Georgia, United States and he won also his second bronze medal in the C-4 500 m event. Most assumed that would be the final medal of his long career, but in 2006 he made a comeback at the 2006 European Championships, held in Račice, Czech Republic, winning a C-4 500 m bronze medal. At the age of thirty-eight he was the second-oldest male competitor.
Pulai is nicknamed "Sumák".
In February 2008, Pulai met with the International Luge Federation in Berlin to help promote luge in his native Hungary which Pulai started competing in 2005. At the FIL European Luge Championships 2010 in Sigulda, he finished 34th in the men's singles event.
- Hungarian canoer of the Year (1): 1994
- Hungarian Sportman of the Year (1) - votes of sports journalists: 1995
- Orders and special awards
- Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary – Silver Cross (1996)
- Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary – Officer's Cross (2000)
- FIL-Luge.org profile. at the Wayback Machine (archived January 16, 2014)
- Olympic champion in canoeing Imre Pulai tries luge. at the Fédération Internationale de Luge de Course (19 February 2008 article accessed 8 December 2009.)
- ICF medalists for Olympic and World Championships – Part 1: flatwater (now sprint): 1936–2007 at WebCite (archived 2009-01-21). Additional archives: Wayback Machine.
- ICF medalists for Olympic and World Championships – Part 2: rest of flatwater (now sprint) and remaining canoeing disciplines: 1936–2007 at WebCite (archived 2009-11-09)
- Kataca.hu Profile (in Hungarian)
- Evans, Hilary; Gjerde, Arild; Heijmans, Jeroen; Mallon, Bill; et al. "Imre Pulai". Olympics at Sports-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Archived from the original on 2010-09-09.
- Wallechinsky, David and Jaime Loucky (2008). "Canoeing: Men's Canadian Pairs 500 Meters". In The Complete Book of the Olympics: 2008 Edition. London: Aurum Press Limited. p. 482.
| Hungarian Sportsman of The Year