3-time Olympics gold medal
ist in volleyball
, and legend in both beach volleyball
and indoor volleyball
Kiraly (DOB: November 3, 1960; Jackson, MI) first made a name for himself in college at UCLA. His Bruins teams won 3 NCAA championships (1979, 1981, and 1982), with Kiraly named Most Outstanding Player in both 1981 and 1982.
In 1984, Kiraly was the youngest player (23) on the gold medal United States Olympic volleyball squad. His game was complete, with solid digging, setting, and killing. Often emotional, Kiraly was also a leader. In 1985, he was named captain of the United States team.
Over the next few years, the United States volleyball team won various tournaments, culminating in their second consecutive gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Kiraly was captain and team MVP.
Shortly after the Olympics, Kiraly began to focus on the developing sport of professional beach volleyball (which is a 2-on-2 format, instead of team). Kiraly, and partner Kent Steffes dominated the circuit in the early and mid-90s. In 1996, Kiraly made a triumphant return to the Olympics, this time in beach volleyball. Kiraly and Steffes won the gold (Kiraly's 3rd overall) in the first time the event was held.
In the later 1990s, an aging Kiraly teamed with Adam Johnson and continued to have some success, including a second place finish in the 1998 Goodwill Games.
As Kiraly's career began to wind down, he passed fellow legend and longtime rival Sinjin Smith in career beach open tournament wins (with 142, to Smith's 139). Ironically, Kiraly and Smith were teammates at UCLA, and partners from 1979-1984.
An injury (to Karch) kept Kiraly and Johnson from qualifying for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Kiraly's played in several tournaments in 2001, but his career's mostly over.
Kiraly has authored several books on volleyball, including an autobiography "The Sand Man".
This weekend (October 19-20, 2001), Kiraly is being inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
GTKY content: When I worked at the Goodwill Games in New York City in 1998, I got to see Kiraly every day, and met him a few times. While intense on the court, he's a really nice upfront person off of it. He's the type of person that after you meet, you can't help but root for him.
References: Beach Volleyball Database (www.bvbinfo.com), www.volleyball.org, personal knowledge