Czech nation mourns loss of its hockey stars in Yaroslavl tragedy
The Czech Republic is mourning the loss of its three ice hockey stars in a plane crash that will be remembered as one of the worst sporting tragedies in history. Jan Marek, Karel Rachůnek and Josef Vašíček were among the 43 victims of Wednesday’s tragic plane crash in Russia which wiped out the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team.
Young woman: “We were here with them in May of this year – cheering to thank them for the bronze medal at the World Championship which they fought so hard to get.”
Man: “They are all about my age. We all knew them –the whole country knew them and they were recognized and respected internationally for their achievements. It’s a tragic loss, but when I think that some of them are fathers as well – it is terribly, terribly sad.”
Coach Alois Hadamczik, who took over the training of the Czech national hockey team in 2010 said he had spoken to Jan Marek just two weeks before the crash.
Although the deaths of the country’s three hockey stars is still seen predominantly as a huge personal tragedy – the enormity of the loss for Czech hockey is slowly dawning on the nation.
Sports commentator Robert Záruba:
“I feel that it is a huge loss – and it has left the national team badly weakened. They were all a strong driving force and would have pushed the team further for another five, six years. So it’s an enormous loss for Czech hockey. They will be sorely missed, not just on the ice but in the changing rooms as co-players and friends who belong on the national team and will always have a place there.”